by Louis Sachar
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Is anyone surprised that holes are a major symbol in a book called Holes?Probably not. But they're still worth taking a look at. There are holes all over the ground at Camp Green Lake, of course, and the boys continue to dig more and more every day.
The holes the boys are forced to dig make us think of some pretty nasty experiences. But holes aren't always a bad thing. How about in Chapter 38, when Stanley digs a hole to get to the water that will eventually save his life? Or in Chapter 43, when Stanley and Zero hide in the holes to protect themselves? And of course, we can't forget that the treasure that saves Stanley's family from poverty comes from deep down in a hole.
That's a lot of holes, we can all agree on that. But there are also more invisible kinds of holes. Think about the holes in the story – what exactly is going on with the curse, anyway? Or how about holes in some of the characters' lives – there's a great big hole in Zero's heart where his mother used to be. (Sounds like a song by Garth Brooks, doesn't it?)
What are all these holes doing in the book? Well, part of the fun of the book, of course, is for the reader to fill in some of the holes himself along the way. Like a mystery of sorts, Holes is always giving us little bits of information that don't seem particularly relevant, only for us to find out much later that some of those bits were the keys to the puzzle all along. Maybe the book is suggesting that life is like that too. Maybe it's the little bits that matter, and maybe the things we're missing are just as important as the things we have.