Holes

Holes

by

Louis Sachar

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Zero/Hector Zeroni Character Analysis

Zero is the smallest boy in Group D. He's black and is often scowling and angry-looking, though Stanley notices that when Zero smiles, his smile seems too big for his face. Zero is the only boy at Camp Green Lake who is referred to by his nickname by other campers and Mr. Pendanski alike; Mr. Pendanski is vocal about his belief that Zero is stupid and useless. This understandably makes Zero even angrier. None of the other boys like Zero much; he's consistently relegated to the last spot in line for water and the other boys join in Mr. Pendanski's jokes about Zero's worthlessness. He and Stanley become friends when Zero admits that he doesn't know how to read and asks Stanley to teach him. Stanley eventually learns that Zero is a very quick study and is skilled at performing mental math, despite having no formal education. In exchange for reading lessons, Zero digs part of Stanley's hole every day. After an altercation over this arrangement, Zero hits Mr. Pendanski across the face with a shovel and heads off into the desert alone. A day later, Stanley discovers that Zero is a ward of the state and thus, Mr. Pendanski and the Warden decide to destroy Zero's records and erase his entire existence. When Stanley goes out after Zero and finds him, Zero has been living under Sam's boat, eating Miss Katherine's peach preserves that he calls "sploosh." This makes him very ill. After carrying Zero to the top of God's Thumb, Stanley helps Zero drink and sings him his great-great grandfather's lullaby. As Zero recovers and as he and Stanley head back to camp, he tells Stanley about his mother. Zero also confesses that he stole Clyde Livingston's shoes; he thought it was better to steal old shoes than brand new ones. In the epilogue, the reader learns that Zero is actually Madame Zeroni's great-great-great grandson, and it broke the Yelnats family curse when Stanley carried Zero up the mountain. Zero uses his money from the first Stanley's suitcase to find his mother.

Zero/Hector Zeroni Quotes in Holes

The Holes quotes below are all either spoken by Zero/Hector Zeroni or refer to Zero/Hector Zeroni. 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 18 Quotes

"Sorry," Stanley said again.

His muscles and hands weren't the only parts of his body that had toughened over the past several weeks. His heart had hardened as well.

Related Characters: Stanley Yelnats (speaker), Zero/Hector Zeroni
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 19 Quotes

Stanley kept his mouth shut most of the time. He didn't talk too much to any of the boys, afraid that he might say the wrong thing. They called him Caveman and all that, but he couldn't forget that they were dangerous, too. They were all here for a reason. As Mr. Sir would say, this wasn't a Girl Scout camp.

Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 23 Quotes

A lot of men in town were not educated. This didn't bother Miss Katherine. She knew they'd spent most of their lives working on farms and ranches and hadn't had much schooling. That was why she was there—to teach them.

But Trout didn't want to learn. He seemed to be proud of his stupidity.

Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 27 Quotes

Zero wrote the letters as Stanley said them. "Zero," he said, looking at his piece of paper. His smile was too big for his face.

Stanley watched him write it over and over again.

Zero Zero Zero Zero Zero Zero Zero...

In a way, it made him sad. He couldn't help but think that a hundred times zero was still nothing.

Related Characters: Stanley Yelnats, Zero/Hector Zeroni
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 30 Quotes

"He's a genius, all right!" said Mr. Pendanski. "He's so stupid, he doesn't even know he's stupid."

Stanley didn't know why Mr. Pendanski seemed to have it in for Zero. If Mr. Pendanski only thought about it, he'd realize it was very logical for Zero to think that the letter "h" made the "ch" sound.

Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 31 Quotes

He knew he never should have let Zero dig part of his hole for him. He still could've taught him to read. If Zero could dig all day and still have the strength to learn, then he should have been able to dig all day and still have the strength to teach.

What he should do, he thought, was go out after Zero.

But he didn't.

Related Characters: Stanley Yelnats, Zero/Hector Zeroni
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

"I don't think I can erase him completely from all the state files, said Mr. Pendanski. "Too many cross-references. But I can so make it so it would be very difficult for anyone to ever find a record of him. Like I said, though, no one will ever look. No one cares about Hector Zeroni."

"Good," said the Warden.

Related Characters: The Warden (speaker), Mr. Pendanski (speaker), Stanley Yelnats, Zero/Hector Zeroni, Mr. Sir
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 34 Quotes

He kept walking toward it, although he didn't know why. He knew he'd have to turn around before he got there. But every time he looked at it, it seemed to encourage him, giving him the thumbs-up sign.

Related Characters: Stanley Yelnats, Zero/Hector Zeroni
Related Symbols: God's Thumb
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 38 Quotes

Higher and higher he climbed. His strength came from somewhere deep inside himself and also seemed to come from the outside as well. After focusing on Big Thumb for so long, it was as if the rock had absorbed his energy and now acted like a kind of giant magnet pulling him toward it.

Related Characters: Stanley Yelnats, Zero/Hector Zeroni
Related Symbols: God's Thumb
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 41 Quotes

"I didn't go to the homeless shelter very often," Zero said. "Just if the weather was really bad. I'd have to find someone to pretend to be my mom. If I'd just gone by myself, they would have asked me a bunch of questions. If they'd found out I didn't have a mom, they would have made me a ward of the state."

"What's a ward of the state?"

Zero smiled. "I don't know. But I didn't like the sound of it."

Related Characters: Stanley Yelnats (speaker), Zero/Hector Zeroni (speaker), Zero's Mother
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 43 Quotes

"Then later a boy asked me if I wanted a piece of cake, but then that same mother told me, 'Go away!' and she told all the kids to stay away from me, so I never got the piece of cake. I ran away so fast, I forgot Jaffy."

"Did you ever find him—it?"

For a moment, Zero didn't answer. Then he said, "He wasn't real."

Related Characters: Stanley Yelnats (speaker), Zero/Hector Zeroni (speaker), Zero's Mother
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 47 Quotes

"It's got his name on it," said Zero.

Stanley's lawyer pushed past the tall man to have a look.

"See," Zero showed her. "Stanley Yelnats."

Stanley looked, too. There, in big black letters, was STANLEY YELNATS.

Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis:
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Holes PDF

Zero/Hector Zeroni Character Timeline in Holes

The timeline below shows where the character Zero/Hector Zeroni appears in Holes. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 5
Cruelty vs. Kindness Theme Icon
Power, Money, and Education Theme Icon
...call themselves Magnet, Armpit, and Zigzag). The boys and Mr. Pendanski call the last boy Zero, and Mr. Pendanski explains that Zero has nothing in his head. Finally, Armpit introduces Mr.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Cruelty vs. Kindness Theme Icon
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...the point of the blade into the ground, but it's baked hard. Stanley helplessly watches Zero, who already has a large pile of dirt next to his hole. Mr. Pendanski had... (full context)
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
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...of Igor's pigs than Elya's "heart full of love," so Elya went to see Madame Zeroni, an old Egyptian woman with only one foot. (full context)
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Elya told Madame Zeroni about his plight, but she was unsympathetic. She insisted that Elya was too young to... (full context)
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Madame Zeroni said that Elya should carry the pig up the mountain for the last time on... (full context)
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...other boys to get water. X-Ray is first, while Stanley is last in line behind Zero. Mr. Sir fills their canteens and then follows Stanley to check his progress. As he... (full context)
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
...Myra's birthday, so instead of carrying it up the mountain one last time as Madame Zeroni had told him to, Elya took a bath. Then, he presented his pig to Myra's... (full context)
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...ended up on a pier. He was heartbroken; he thought that Myra loved him. Madame Zeroni was right. Elya read a sign asking for deck hands on a ship to America,... (full context)
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Even though Zero is the smallest boy in Group D, he finishes digging first. In awe, Stanley watches... (full context)
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...each other very much. However, bad luck seemed to follow Elya. He remembered that Madame Zeroni mentioned having a son in America, so he began approaching people asking if they knew... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9
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...when he senses that someone is reading over his shoulder, so he turns to find Zero behind him. Stanley explains he doesn't want Stanley's mother to worry. Zero looks serious and... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 10
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...D always lines up in the same order: X-Ray first, then Armpit, Squid, Zigzag, Magnet, Zero, and finally Stanley. When Mr. Pendanski fills Stanley's canteen, Stanley hands over the fossil and... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 11
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Stanley marvels that X-Ray is the leader, since he's the smallest aside from Zero. Stanley thinks that Armpit is the biggest before realizing that he himself is actually bigger.... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 12
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...nickname, and asks Stanley who's responsible for landing him at Camp Green Lake. Everyone, including Zero, laughs when Stanley suggests it's the fault of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather. Mr. Pendanski tells Stanley that... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 15
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...the dug-up dirt into wheelbarrows and cart it away. Stanley is assigned to work with Zero. The Warden stays at the site all day and makes sure the campers never run... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 16
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Zero startles Stanley asking him what's funny. Stanley initially refuses to tell Zero what Stanley's mother... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 18
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...to his parents. As he begins a letter telling them about swimming and rock climbing, Zero walks in and stands behind Stanley. When Stanley asks him not to read his letters,... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 21
Cruelty vs. Kindness Theme Icon
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...group for digging his hole. None of the boys take credit for digging. Stanley notices Zero's hole is smaller than all the others. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 22
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Stanley finishes his hole first and heads back to camp to mull over why Zero dug his hole for him. Later, Armpit, Zigzag, X-Ray, and Squid suggest that Zero just... (full context)
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Stanley and Zero return to the tent and pull out Stanley's box of stationery. They begin with reciting... (full context)
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Zero suggests that Stanley teach him ten letters per day, five capitals and five lowercase, and... (full context)
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...like it, but he reasons that he still needs a break from digging to teach Zero. He thinks about the Warden's cabin and the mysterious gold tube. Suddenly, Stanley realizes it's... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 24
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...Mr. Sir's face the rest of the day. He looks forward to his break, which Zero said he could have whenever he's ready. When the water truck comes around the second... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 27
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...Pendanski has been making a point to give Stanley extra. It also helps to have Zero digging, but the other boys don't like it. They mock Stanley and insist that he's... (full context)
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Once Zero learns the alphabet, Stanley teaches him to write his name. Zero smiles hugely and seems... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 30
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...is, but he attempts to figure out how long he's been at Camp Green Lake. Zero does the math for him; if it's indeed July 8, Stanley has been there 46... (full context)
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
...and better adapted to the heat, Mr. Sir isn't depriving him of water anymore, and Zero digging part of his hole helps. He still feels awkward about it, though. As the... (full context)
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When Zero takes his turn in Stanley's hole, Zigzag, X-Ray, and Armpit again suggest that Stanley get... (full context)
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Suddenly, Zigzag is lifted off Stanley. Stanley looks up to see Zero with an arm around Zigzag's neck, choking him. Zero refuses to stop, even when Mr.... (full context)
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Stanley calmly explains his deal with Zero to the Warden and suggests that Zero learning to read is building his character, just... (full context)
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The Warden says that nobody will dig anyone else's hole and that Zero's reading lessons must stop. Zero answers that he's not digging another hole, which the Warden... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 31
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Stanley digs angrily. He thinks he should've taught Zero to read even without the deal. He knows he should go out after Zero, but... (full context)
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Zero hasn't returned by the next morning. Stanley keeps an eye out as he digs and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 32
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...it actually no longer smells or if he's just used to it. He wonders if Zero might still be alive and thinks that he's most worried that it's maybe not too... (full context)
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...morning, when the water truck arrives, Stanley wonders if it's not too late to save Zero. He watches Mr. Sir fill canteens and wonders if he left the keys to the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 33
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...like at camp. Stanley starts checking in holes, though he won't admit he's looking for Zero. He finds a family of yellow-spotted lizards in one and runs away, terrified. He collapses... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 34
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...to shout to scare the critter back in. However, the animal says "hey" back and Zero's hand pokes out. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 35
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Zero's face is sunken and droopy. Stanley admits his canteen is empty and says he tried... (full context)
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Stanley wonders if Zero knows what bacteria are as he takes a sip. The liquid is sweet and peachy... (full context)
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Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Zero asks what "Mar-ya Luh-oh-oo" is, and leads Stanley back aboveground to point at the boat.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 36
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Stanley and Zero put four unbroken jars in the sack, just in case. Zero carries the shovel and... (full context)
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Zero has another episode and Stanley wonders if he'll have to dig Zero's grave. He's surprised... (full context)
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Zero wonders what's at the top of God's Thumb, and Stanley suggests there's probably an Italian... (full context)
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Zero suggests that Stanley boost him up, and then he can pull Stanley up with the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 37
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...overhead, Stanley feels afraid. He fears that if there's no water up there, he and Zero will have nothing. The land gradually becomes steeper and steeper, forcing Stanley and Zero to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 38
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Stanley pulls a limp Zero upright and then onto his shoulder, with Zero's legs dangling in front. He leaves the... (full context)
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...water. When Stanley has a reasonably sized hole, he scoops water and splashes it on Zero's face. Zero begins to stir, so Stanley pulls Zero closer and pours more into Zero's... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 39
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...the bottom. He tries to rinse his mouth of the dirty water with little success. Zero stirs, moans, and tells Stanley he's not doing well. Zero crawls to the water hole,... (full context)
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With difficulty, Zero says that he needs to tell Stanley something. Zero grits his teeth through the pain... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 40
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Back in the present, Stanley and Zero take the next two days to recover. They eat onions and drink the dirty water.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 41
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Zero continues to improve. Stanley digs the water hole to about the size of the holes... (full context)
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Zero says he liked sleeping outside because he wanted to be a Cub Scout. He notes... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 42
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Zero grows strong enough to help dig the water hole. He makes it about six feet... (full context)
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...realizes he's never been truly happy, but now he likes who he is. He watches Zero's breath blow a flower petal around and thinks that Zero had only been at Camp... (full context)
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Stanley wonders if he and Zero could possibly sneak past the camp and follow the road back to civilization. He reasons... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 43
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...picking onions and preparing for their journey back to Camp Green Lake, Stanley listens to Zero talk about his mother. Zero says they used to live in a real house, and... (full context)
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Stanley and Zero's plan is to leave early the next morning, arrive at Camp Green Lake before dark,... (full context)
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Stanley and Zero head down the mountain the next morning. Stanley points out where he found the shovel,... (full context)
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At the bottom, Stanley and Zero ask each other if they're thirsty. Stanley lies and says he isn't, and he thinks... (full context)
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Zero says that he has no idea why Zero's mother left him. As Zero talks, Stanley... (full context)
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Zero continues his story as they walk. He says that once, a few weeks after Zero's... (full context)
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Zero stops suddenly and insists they're going the wrong way. He draws a map in the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 44
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Stanley struggles to sleep but is surprised when Zero wakes him up. There's one light on in the camp office and moonlight above as... (full context)
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...it goes. Stanley fears making the side of the hole cave in, but he and Zero decide that Stanley should try to wedge it free. It works, and Stanley pulls out... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 45
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Mr. Pendanski shines the flashlight on Zero, who sits with the suitcase on his lap. Mr. Sir points his gun at Zero.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 46
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Several hours later, Zero and Stanley are still alive. As a lizard springs towards Mr. Pendanski, Mr. Sir shoots... (full context)
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...in a hole, and the lizards got him. She says they won't even give "them" Zero's body. Mr. Pendanski notes that it doesn't make sense for Stanley to run if he... (full context)
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...tents to deal with the campers. Only Mr. Sir remains with her. Stanley glances at Zero, who slowly gives Stanley a thumbs-up. Stanley wonders what Mr. Sir was talking about; he... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 47
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As the sun rises, Stanley counts eight lizards in the hole with him. Inexplicably, Zero says, "Satan." The Warden suggests that Mr. Sir take the suitcase from Zero, as the... (full context)
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...escape the sun as the day progresses. Stanley believes that there are two hiding between Zero's knees. The boys whisper to each other, and Stanley tries to climb out. He feels... (full context)
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...hole and the lizards allow him to do so. He steadies himself and then helps Zero stand. As the last of the lizards skitter away, the Warden rushes to Zero, hugs... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 48
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...he can barely speak. Mr. Sir fetches Stanley's belongings while Mr. Pendanski grabs Stanley and Zero food. Ms. Morengo assures Stanley that he'll see his parents soon. The Warden attempts to... (full context)
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...free to go, so Ms. Morengo bustles Stanley away. He turns around to look at Zero and says he can't leave Hector. Zero looks from Mr. Pendanski to the Warden and... (full context)
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...and the Attorney General return. The Attorney General explains that he can't find any of Hector's records, including his release date or reason for incarceration. Enraged, Ms. Morengo takes Zero's hand... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 49
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Stanley and Zero sit in Ms. Morengo's backseat, the suitcase between them. Stanley admits he has no idea... (full context)
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...that Stanley's father invented a product to cure foot odor and passes the boys samples. Zero thinks it smells familiar, and Ms. Morengo says people think it's peaches. The boys fall... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 50
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...odor cure the day after Elya Yelnats's great-great grandson carried the great-great-great grandson of Madame Zeroni up the mountain. The Warden was forced to sell her family's land after the Attorney... (full context)
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...stack of old stock certificates and deeds of trust from the first Stanley. Stanley and Hector each got a little less than a million dollars. Stanley bought his family a house,... (full context)
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On Super Bowl Sunday, there's a party at the Yelnats house. Stanley and Hector are the only teens in attendance. As a commercial comes on, everyone stops to watch.... (full context)
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Stanley turns towards Hector, who's sitting on the floor in front of a youngish woman. She looks weathered and... (full context)