Holes

Holes

by

Louis Sachar

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Sam is the black onion seller in 1880s Green Lake. He touts the healing powers of onions, citing his donkey Mary Lou as evidence: he claims that she's nearly 50 and never gets sick because she eats only onions. Nobody is sure if they can believe him, given that Sam himself is only twenty. Aside from selling onions, Sam also makes a number of tinctures and ointments out of onions meant to cure all manner of illnesses and ailments. Even Doc Hawthorn uses Sam's cream to cure balding. Sam is gregarious and appears to be loved by all. He and Miss Katherine form a friendship and then a romance when he offers to fix the dilapidated schoolhouse for her. When there's no more to fix at the schoolhouse, Sam kisses Katherine in the rain, insisting it will fix her breaking heart. However, because Sam is African-American, the kiss is illegal and the townsfolk riot. Sam and Katherine attempt to escape across the lake to Sam's secret onion fields, but Trout Walker's motorized boat is inescapable. Trout shoots Sam in the water, which puts a curse on Green Lake: no rain falls until Stanley and Hector, 110 years later, set things right. Katherine tries to avenge Sam's death by killing the sheriff, who wanted to hang Sam.

Sam Quotes in Holes

The Holes quotes below are all either spoken by Sam or refer to Sam. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Holes published in 1998.
Part 1, Chapter 26 Quotes

Miss Katherine jerked her hand free. As she hurried to the door, she heard the sheriff say, "The law will punish Sam. And God will punish you."

Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

These are the facts:

The Walker boat smashed into Sam's boat. Sam was shot and killed in the water. Katherine Barlow was rescued against her wishes. When they returned to the shore, she saw Mary Lou's body lying on the ground. The donkey had been shot in the head.

That all happened one hundred and ten years ago. Since then, not one drop of rain has fallen on Green Lake.

You make the decision: Whom did God punish?

Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Holes LitChart as a printable PDF.
Holes PDF

Sam Character Timeline in Holes

The timeline below shows where the character Sam appears in Holes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 25
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
110 years ago, the people of Green Lake went to both Doc Hawthorn and Sam, the onion man, for their maladies. Sam grew onions on the opposite side of the... (full context)
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Cruelty vs. Kindness Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Power, Money, and Education Theme Icon
...one for Mary Lou, as well. One afternoon, Katherine lamented the coming rain, explaining to Sam that the schoolhouse leaked. He offered to fix it in exchange for six jars of... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
Power, Money, and Education Theme Icon
Katherine, however, was sad, as she had nothing else for Sam to fix. One afternoon as she cried and rain poured outside, she heard Sam selling... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 26
Cruelty vs. Kindness Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
...He told her she was pretty and asked her to kiss him, since she kissed Sam. Horrified, Katherine accused the sheriff of drinking. He explained that he always drinks before a... (full context)
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Katherine found Sam and told him they needed to leave. Sam agreed to leave Mary Lou behind and... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 28
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Cruelty vs. Kindness Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Kate Barlow returned to Green Lake twenty years after Sam's death. It was a ghost town at that point, and the lake was little more... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 40
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
...one of the white flowers, including the roots. The narration jumps back to the past; Sam is selling onions on the streets of Green Lake. Mrs. Tennyson, a very proper woman,... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
...is the butcher. Hattie's face flushes. She excuses herself and Mrs. Tennyson buys onions from Sam. When she insists he keep the change, Sam asks her to buy onions for Mary... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 49
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
...but everyone knew about the "red-eyed monsters" in the hills. One afternoon, several men approached Sam. They said they were going rattlesnake hunting and wanted some of his "lizard juice." Sam... (full context)