Discussion Guide: Holes, by Louis Sachar
- How is the story illustrated by the author’s use of wordplay?
(We see the development of irony and double meaning in expressions :Clyde “Sweet Feet” Livingston and dad’s foot odor spray, Camp “Green” Lake, “Kissing” Kate Barlow, Mr. “Mom” Pendanski, Mr. “Sir”.)
- Why do the boys use undesirable nicknames for each other?
(Perhaps it serves as a coping mechanism during this hardship. It may help them feel like tough guys who are unaffected by the hazardous conditions. It also might be a bit rebellious, distancing their true selves from the staff.)
- Stanley lies to his parents when he sends home letters depicting camp as ideal. Why?
(He wants to spare them the burden of knowing the painful truth.)
- When Stanley blames his “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing” great-great grandfather for all the family troubles, is he just avoiding accountability?
(We believe this at first, but throughout the book we discover more than injustice that affects generations.)
- When Zero runs away, all evidence of him is destroyed as they let him run to his inevitable demise. How does this work to his favor in the end?
(They are forced to release him from camp since there is now no evidence that he belongs there.)
- Zero eventually confesses his part in the stolen sneakers story. What effect does this have on his friendship with Stanley?
Stanley finds it easy to forgive his best friend. In fact, he is tickled to have a best friend at all.)
- What causes the yellow spotted lizards to decide not to bite the boys?
(They have been eating onions – the ones from Sam’s field. The lizards don’t like “onion blood” and refuse to bite them.)
- Barfbag allowed himself to be bitten by a rattlesnake and Kate allowed herself to be bitten by a yellow spotted lizard? Why?
(Barfbag puts an end to his misery. Kate uses death as revenge, avoiding Trout, who demands to know where she hid the loot that she stole from Stanley’s great great grandfather.)
- What is sploosh?
(Canning jars of Kate’s spiced peaches. Zero and Stanley find these under Sam’s old boat and enjoy drinking/eating them. The jars are many years old by now, but give the boys something to sustain themselves.)
- The song “If Only” seems to link Stanley and Zero. How?
(Zero is a descendant of Madame Zeroni, who gave Stanley’s great-great grandfather the pig in order to impress an eligible bachelorette in town. Stanley’s ancestor broke his promise to carry Madame Z up the mountain to drink the water and sing the song to her. Thus a curse was born, and Stanley’s ancestor became a pig thief. Once Stanley performed this act for Zero, the curse was lifted.)
- How was Kissing Kate Barlow’s curse lifted?
(Once it is revealed that Stanley’s name is on the box and the warden has no claim to it, Stanley and Zero are happily on their way to freedom. Now the rain begins after 110 years of drought.)