Louis Sachar

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Holes: Part 1, Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

As Stanley walks, he hopes that he can finish his hole before Mr. Sir recovers, as he doesn't want to be out in the lake with Mr. Sir alone. He thinks about the first Stanley, who was robbed by Kissin' Kate Barlow and left in the desert. Stanley reasons their situations aren't so different. When two rattlesnake hunters found the first Stanley, he was insane and only said that "he found refuge on God's thumb." After he recovered, he had no idea what that meant. Stanley hears a twitching sound and looks down to see a rattlesnake. He turns around, runs away, and mentally thanks the snake for warning him.
The fact that the rattlesnake does indeed warn Stanley suggests that not all of nature that appears scary and terrible is actually out to get people. The snake represents a side of nature that's capable of coexisting with humans—and most importantly, doesn't actually want to hurt them. When compared to the Warden's venomous polish, this again shows that she's on the opposite side in this relationship to nature.
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When Stanley returns to the group, he says simply to his curious fellow campers that the Warden just got mad at Mr. Sir for bothering her. Stanley is surprised to see that his hole is nearly finished and as a smile crosses his face, he thanks the group for digging his hole. None of the boys take credit for digging. Stanley notices Zero's hole is smaller than all the others.
As Zero begins to appear more and more like a full-fledged, feeling human being to Stanley, it reinforces Stanley's own growing callousness for the reader. It suggests that Stanley will need to think more about these changes he's undergoing if he wishes to learn to see Zero as a real person.
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