Holes

Holes

by

Louis Sachar

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Holes: Part 1, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Stanley is again the last boy to finish digging. When he arrives at Tent D, he finds Mr. Pendanski and the other boys sitting in a circle. Mr. Pendanski invites Stanley to join their discussion of what they want to do with their lives after Camp Green Lake. Mr. Pendanski carefully calls the boys by their given names as he asks Magnet what he likes to do. When Magnet offers that he likes animals, the other boys suggest different jobs involving animals. Magnet likes Stanley's suggestion of training animals for movies.
The tenor of this conversation suggests that Mr. Pendanski is forcing the issue somewhat, but Magnet's willingness to participate reinforces the fact that he's just a child who thinks animals are cool. The idea of life after Camp Green Lake also situates the camp as being a part of the formal justice system, as a main tenet of the justice system in the U.S. entails seeing prison or punishment as rehabilitation.
Themes
Cruelty vs. Kindness Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
When X-Ray laughs at Magnet, Mr. Pendanski insists they "don't laugh at people's dreams" and points out that someone has to train the animals. X-Ray insists that Magnet will never be an animal trainer, to which Mr. Pendanski offers an inspirational speech about not giving up even when life is hard. Stanley thinks of what he'll say if Mr. Pendanski asks him what he likes to do, reasoning that his desire to work for the FBI won't go over well with this group.
Again, it's worth noting that Mr. Pendanski is able to give such inspirational speeches only because he actually has some power and agency over his own life; for X-Ray and Magnet, they'll have comparatively little power even after camp given that they've already been convicted of crimes as teens.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Power, Money, and Education Theme Icon
Mr. Pendanski turns to Stanley, comments on his new 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 it's his own fault, and he's the only one responsible for fixing it. Zero's smile disappears when Mr. Pendanski says that even Zero isn't totally worthless and has something to offer. When Mr. Pendanski asks Zero what he wants to do with his life, Zero glares back and says he likes digging holes.
Mr. Pendanski's insistence that Stanley is the only one to blame for his actions reinforces the absurdity of the justice system and of Stanley's conviction in particular; per the logic of the novel, it absolutely was Elya Yelnats's fault that Stanley was convicted for a crime he didn't commit. This begins to allow the reader to put pieces together in a way that feels satisfying, since the characters aren't fully aware of this logic.
Themes
Fate and Destiny Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Power, Money, and Education Theme Icon