HOLES BY LOUIS SACHAR
Part One: Bibliographic Information
Genre: Fiction. Adventure, mystery, humor
Sachar, L. (1998). Holes. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Part Two: Response to the Book
While I predicted that there would be ties between characters, I could not pinpoint whom and how the characters would be connected. Stories of the past were told sporadically throughout the book which lead me to predict that the reader would revisit those stories and the characters involved at some point later in the book. As the story began to unfold, I discovered many ties between characters, along with objects that were mentioned in past stories that resurfaced in the present. The ability to tie stories of the past to the present while simultaneously connecting characters, in the manner that Sachar did is remarkable.
The alleged reason for making the boys at Camp Green Lake dig holes was to build character. The strenuous work performed in weather conditions consisting mostly of extreme temperatures and dry heat with little to no water was supposed to teach these boys a lesson that would contribute to their character development. While the boys failed to understand the false motive, they continued to dig holes and accepted it as a type of punishment for the misbehavior that landed them in the camp. Although the boys’ efforts to dig five feet deep and wide holes under the burning sun for hours at a time with only one shovel and no water or food went unnoticed by the warden and counselors at the camp, it had become a skill that they did not even notice they had. It was a skill that would develop a number of other skills and characteristics essential to life. Among the many skills is strength. This type of work helped the boys to develop strength by pushing them over their natural limits. They also developed perseverance as they continued their tasks despite the how difficult it was. They developed strategy skills as they progressively began to plan and direct their day in the field and back at the camp. They had been digging holes for so long, they were not even able to recognize the ways in which they had developed, as it had become merely just a tedious routine to them.
Zero’s character reminds me a lot of me. Growing up, education was not a priority in my family. I was the first to graduate with a high school diploma and the first to attend college in my family. I attended college for a semester right after graduating high school and did not particularly love it. I dropped out and worked full time positions for about 7 years before ever considering going back. Finally, my last job drove me to get back and school and receive an education. This time around I love it! I love learning, I love the challenge, I love the work, I love the material, I just love every thing about it! Like Zero, despite the lack of academic encouragement from my family in the past, the lack of educational knowledge that my family possesses, the obstacles I face being the only one to attend college as I am in constant need of guidance. The challenges of figuring things out on my own, even simple things that are so easily understood by others such as, am I making the right decision? What do I do next? How do I go about it? What is the difference between a B.S. and B.A.? How do I fill out this form? What does this mean? What is graduate school? and so on… I know that I am smart enough to accomplish anything. It may not come as easily as it does to others, and it will probably take more effort from me than the average scholar, I know that I am capable of achieving anything as long as I am willing to learn, and like Zero, I love to learn. Much like Zero, I just need the support and guidance of others. I look up to many of my friends because I learn a great deal from them. They are the Stanley to my Zero! Also, like Zero I can stand up for myself, am honest, and am thoughtful.
The issues raised in the book regarding the behavior of those in charge of the camp is significant to today’s time. The depictions of the warden and counselors at Camp Green Lake are accurate portrayals of many people in positions of power today. These characters were ruthless, mean, nasty, dishonest, and extremely cruel. Recent issues surrounding police brutality against minorities, and the dishonesty and unpleasant behavior of current politicians are examples of the advantage leaders in positions of power take of the people.
Among the many challenges of becoming an effective educator is the task of teaching children ethics / morals. Teaching to build character, I would imagine, is challenging because how really does one teach morality? I think a great / fun way to teach empathy to students is to have them act out a skit from this story. I would have my students act out the scene where the warden and Mr. Pendanski confront Zero about digging Stanley’s holes. In this scene, Mr. Pendanski and the warden interrogate Zero about what Stanley’s been teaching him. After interrogating him, Mr. Pendanski begins to mock him. The anger and embarrassment made Zero run away. This scene will likely teach students the importance of empathy and will as a result prevent them from bullying others.
Part Three: Critique
Unlike the conventional plot, this story creatively combines realism and legend while using elements of mystery to keep the events suspenseful. Sachar’s trick of alternating between past and present scenarios make for an intense reading that keeps the reader engaged and motivated to keep reading and finding out more! Much like the plot, the tone is full of surprises. While most of the story takes place in a grim place that almost anyone would find unpleasant, Sachar eases the setting by inserting humor and irony into the narration. In many cases, Sachar makes statements and leaves it up to the reader to make his / her inference about the subject matter. In some instances, he even speaks to the reader directly, posing questions about events happening in the book. As you begin to learn the past of the Green Lake and all of the characters, you will discover the various connections that will make for a chilling climax. The repetition of phrases and themes throughout the story heighten the reader’s anticipation. Sachar also uses folkloric devices such as the rhyming song passed on through Stanley’s family. Although it is uncertain how it will all come together at the end, the author’s patterns of language and narrative guarantee the reader that somehow it will all make sense. It’s just a matter of staying tuned!
Part Four: Lesson Plan Sketch
Lesson Objective: Given live portrayals of scenes from the story, performed by their peers, students will be able to accurately determine the cause and effect of all the skits that are performed.
- What is the reason that Stanley believes for his being sent to Camp Green Lake?
- Why is Zero sent to Camp Green Lake?
- Camp Green Lake is forced to close its doors at the end of the story. Why?
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Lesson Activity- After reading Louis Sachar’s, Holes, students will be placed in small groups. Each group will be assigned a short scene of the story which they will be required to act out. Each scene will include a cause and effect. Among the group members, some students will be required to act out the cause while the others act out the effect. Once students are prepared to act , each group will perform their short skit in front of their peers. Once the skit has been performed, the students in the audience will be asked to name the scene and identify the cause and effect. Each skit will lead a 5 minute discussion before continuing on to the next skit. Skits will include:
Cause: Eating Sam’s onions
Effect: Yellow spotted lizard doesn’t hurt Zero and Stanley
Cause: Digging holes every day
Effect: Stanley is strong enough to carry Zero up the mountain
Cause: Sam’s overturned boat
Effect: Zero and Stanley can escape the heat for a while and survive