Holes by Louis Sachar is a popular middle-grade novel about Stanley Yelnats and his unfortunate luck that causes him to wind up at Camp Green Lake digging holes to build character. This guide provides sample discussion questions to increase your comprehension.
Questions about Characters
In the novel, author Louis Sachar has several interesting characters that play important roles in the novel's plot and themes. Many of you may have seen the Holes movie, but use the book to help you answer the questions.
1. Why does Stanley Yelnats have such bad luck? Why do things not go his way through most of the novel? (Hint: Think about the curse.)
2. How does Stanley Yelnats change throughout the novel? Does he only change once the curse is broken or is he changing throughout? (Hint: Think about his actions before he carries Hector up the hill--has he changed?)
3. Why is Hector (Zero) such an important character in this novel? When did you realize who he actually was? (Hint: Think about the curse and the story that is told in the past.)
4. Why does the Warden have the boys digging so many holes? Is it for character-building? Who is she a descendant of? (Hint: The story from the past helps explain the Warden's motivation and her heritage.)
5. Choose two of the other boys at Camp Green Lake whom you think are important to the story. Describe their personality and how they relate to Stanley and Zero.
Questions about the Movie
Once you have read Holes, you can also watch the Holes movie to get a deeper understanding of the characters, themes, and plot. However, as you know, movies and books are often different.
1. What are three differences you noticed in the Holes movie from the book?
2. In the movie, the story about the past is also told just like it is in the book. Did you find the way that story was told in the movie easy to follow or hard? Was it easier to understand it in the book or the movie? Which did you enjoy more and why?
3. When you watched the movie, did you picture the characters looking like the actors who played the main roles? Did anyone surprise you with the way they looked in the Holes movie? Why or why not?
Some important themes for Holes are:
Fate and Destiny vs Free Will: One of the biggest themes in Holes is that Stanley Yelnats is a victim of fate and destiny instead of his free will. For example, Stanley gets convicted of a crime he did not commit because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He blames this on this great-great-grandfather and the curse on his family. It was not a result of his free will that he was sent to Camp Green Lake, except for the fact the judge gave him a choice of jail or camp. What are some other examples you can find where fate and destiny cause Stanley's problems or actions? Does he have any free will throughout Holes by Louis Sachar?
Helping Others (Friendship): Another one of the themes for Holes by Louis Sachar is helping others. While Stanley is at Camp Green Lake, the Warden and other adults do not really encourage the boys to help each other dig their holes. She wants a certain number of holes dug each day and a certain depth. Stanley learns throughout his experience that to survive, you must help others or rely on others' help. Where you can find examples of this Holes theme throughout the novel? Does Stanley make any true friends at Camp Green Lake?
Belonging to Peer Groups, Belonging in the World: Stanley is overweight and doesn't fit in with kids at his school. He is often bullied and picked on. He doesn't feel like he belongs anywhere. Even though the experience at Camp Green Lake provides many struggles and dangers, he actually starts feeling like he belongs somewhere. When do you notice Stanley's opinion of himself starts to change? When do you think he feels like he is belonging in the world or with the other boys at Camp Green Lake? What is the sign for him?