Discussion Topic

Stanley's self-realizations in the novel "Holes."

Summary:

In the novel "Holes," Stanley realizes that his family curse is broken when he carries Zero up the mountain and sings the lullaby. He also comes to understand the value of friendship and perseverance, recognizing his own strength and resilience through his experiences at Camp Green Lake.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What has Stanley learned about himself by the end of the novel Holes?

Stanley, the protagonist of Holes, is a dynamic character indeed. This means that from the beginning of the story till the end, he does not remain the same. He grows, changes, and adapts, and as a result, learns a lot about himself. To show how he changes, and what he learns, think about his character at the beginning of the novel. Overweight. Insecure. Easily bullied and taken advantage of. Quietly kind, but in a way that allows others to take advantage of him. Consider that he is pressured to give the lipstick tube to X-Ray so X-Ray can have the day off. Similarly, consider that he takes the blame when Magnet steals the sunflower. At the beginning of the story, Stanley is a sensitive and somewhat weak character who believes that his family is at fault for his lack of luck.

He changes, however, at Camp Green Lake. Of course, he loses weight. But more importantly, he begins to stand up for himself. "His muscles and hands weren't the only parts of his body that had toughened over the past several weeks. His heart had hardened as well" (82). As a result of this change of attitude, Stanley slowly ceases to act as a victim of life. He begins to identify those who threaten him, and starts to stand up for himself.

As he gains self-confidence, ironically, he develops a friendship with Zero, the least popular kid at camp. Stanley and Zero's friendship keep Stanley from going the full circle of victim-turned-bully. When Stanley risks his life at the end of the book, to save his friend Zero, he shows that he is no longer so self-centered. He considers the needs of others above his own. And, he is rewarded.

By the end of the book, no doubt, Stanley has discovered his own inner strength. He learns that he has the ability to control his destiny, or, at the very least, that perhaps he has not always been at the wrong place at the wrong time. He learns that friendship is more important than even life itself. And he learns that the family "bad luck" curse, can change, and has. As a result, he learns the importance of family, and decides to take care of his.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What self-realizations does Stanley have in the book "Holes"?

At the beginning of the story, we see Stanley as a quiet, passive kid who is prone to being bullied and taken advantage of. He simply accepts his sentencing to Camp Green Lake and goes with absolute compliance (even though he did not steal the shoes).

Stanley was not a bad kid. He was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. He'd just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We see this compliance follow him to camp, where he conforms to the expectations set by the warden. However, as the story progresses, we see Stanley take more control over his emotions and recognize his importance as an individual. Stanley is able to unveil the truth about Kissin' Kate Barlow's treasure (stolen from Stanley's relative, Elya). While uncovering this truth, Stanley also reverses his family curse when he carries Zero (a descendent of Madame Zeroni) up the mountain. With this act alone, he proves his bravery and compassion toward his friend.

Stanley Yelnats learns that he is more than just an unlucky kid. He learns that he is actually capable of redeeming himself and his entire family. Although his family is cursed, Stanley is the one who breaks this curse. In the end, Stanley has fulfilled his role as a dynamic character. He leaves behind the insecure, overweight child and becomes a man. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What self-realizations does Stanley have in the book "Holes"?

In Louis Sachar's novel Holes, Stanley learns about himself primarily through his encounter with Zero and the experiences they share. At first, Stanley thinks Zero is stupid and is inclined to ignore him, largely because he himself has been the target of so much bullying. When he starts to teach Zero how to read, however, he soon finds that Zero is an intelligent student and has only lacked the opportunity to learn.

Stanley begins to understand the value of friendship and to see that he should have empathy and solidarity with Zero because they have both been the target of bullying. It is when he finds Zero in the desert, weakened by illness, and carries him up God's Thumb to get water that Stanley realizes the strength of which he is capable. By the end of the narrative, the adventures he has shared with Zero have given both boys new courage and self-confidence and shown them the value of loyalty, in addition to making them rich.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on