Holes

by: Louis Sachar

Motifs

Main ideas Motifs

Physical Environment

In Holes, the characters' physical environment acts as a metaphor for their emotional states. Camp Green Lake is dry, hard, and hot. It is a physically unpleasant place to be and the people who live there lead unpleasant lives. The counselors are cruel and the boys are tough and often unfriendly. The mountain that Stanley and his great-grandfather call God's thumb, however, is lush and green. While Stanley is there he is free of outside threats and he is very happy.

Names

How things or people are named is important in Holes. People's names present one view of them when, in fact, their real personality might be very different. The name Kissin' Kate Barlow, for instance, brings to mind a dangerous outlaw while the name Miss Katherine suggests a mild mannered school teacher. The two names (and the two personalities) belong to the same person but the way in which she is perceived depends very heavily on what name she is given. Similarly, the nicknames that the boys give themselves at Camp Green Lake represent a separation of their life at home from their life at the camp. Stanley is known as a mild-mannered boy who is easily picked on at home but his name at camp, Caveman, suggests a fierce and strong boy who might be able to scare others. While Stanley does, in fact, become stronger and at points a little bit meaner while at Camp Green Lake, overall he keeps his genial personality from home.