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Themes

The kids in <em>Holes </em>are totally removed from their families, and for the most part, we don't really see them in the context of their lives at home. The environment at camp sure doesn't make for a feeling of family either. But the fact that family is <em>lacking </em>is a really important aspect to the story: sometimes what's missing is just as important as what's there. The boys, having been separated from their families at camp, are vulnerable to the power-hungry adults (and kids) around them. Zero, who hasn't had a family for quite a while, shows us how this vulnerability can happen anywhere – not just at Camp Green Lake. Bottom line: without family, life just isn't as cozy.

Questions About Family

  1. Why do you think Stanley feels the need to lie to his parents in his letters home?
  2. Why do they call Mr. Pendanski "Mom"? And why does Mr. P single out Zero for so much of his abuse? Are the two things related at all?
  3. Once he gets to know Stanley, Zero talks a lot about how much he misses his mom. Do Stanley and Zero become kind of a family – like brothers – over the course of the book?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Stanley's relationship with his family is ultimately the best thing in his life. It's what keeps him going despite all the bad luck he has to endure because of the curse.

Friendship – particularly Stanley's friendship with Zero – is way more important than family in this book.

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