by Louis Sachar
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Many of the characters in Holes have more than one name, or are called by different names at different times or by different people. What's up with this? How does it change your understanding of the characters or even their understanding of themselves? What kind of power does it give you to assign a name to someone? What does it mean to call someone "Miss Katherine" as opposed to "Kate"? "Caveman" as opposed to "Stanley"?
- Mr. Pendanski, unlike Mr. Sir, seems like a pretty friendly guy: he's concerned about his campers and sympathetic to their feelings. What do you make of this? Do you think his concern is genuine? If not, why does he act the way he does? Would you rather have Mr. Pendanski or Mr. Sir as your counselor?
- At one point in the book, the narrator tells us that "Stanley was thankful that there were no racial problems" at Camp Green Lake (19.12). Do you think Stanley's right? Is race not a factor at Camp Green Lake?
- How does the structure of Holes affect how you experience the book? All the interruptions and flashbacks are kind of fun, but how do they change the book? What would the book have been like if the stories had been told in a more linear, chronological way? That is, if all of Elya's story came first, followed by all of Kate's, then all of Stanley's? Would anything be lost if the book were written this way?
- What exactly is it about Zero that helps Stanley change? Why Zero?
- There aren't very many female characters in Holes. But the ladies who do appear – The Warden, Madame Zeroni, Kissin' Kate – tend to be very powerful. How do you think the story would have been different if Camp Green Lake had been a juvenile detention center for girls?
- Eight years after Holes was published, Louis Sachar wrote a sequel called Small Steps, in which he explored Armpit's life after Camp Green Lake. If you were to write a sequel to Holes, what would it be about? Which character would you focus on?
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