It occurred to him that he couldn’t remember the last time he felt happiness. It wasn’t just being at Camp Green Lake that had made his life miserable. Before that he’d been unhappy at school, where he had no friends, and bullies like Derrick Dunne picked on him. No one liked him, and the truth was, he didn’t especially like himself. He liked himself now.
The narrator reveals the inner transformation Stanley Yelnats experiences after he goes through the many physical and emotional changes detailed in the story. Readers watch Stanley transform from weak and unhappy to strong and happy. In Stanley’s reflection on the mountain by Big Thumb, Stanley realizes that he has found happiness through his friendship with Zero, by making choices, taking action, and finding his physical and emotional resources to overcome impossible challenges. Stanley uses his circumstances to transform himself, and he accomplishes tasks he never thought possible and finds joy he never knew existed.
He jerked it free. “It belongs to Stanley,” he said . . . “It’s got his name on it,” said Zero . . . “See,” Zero showed her. “Stanley Yelnats.”
Zero, transformed from a silent, angry boy to a brave and strong friend, stands up for Stanley. In doing so, he demonstrates how quickly he learned to read, debunking the idea that he is too dumb to learn. In this scene, just as Stanley and Zero escape the deadly lizards after finding Stanley’s great-great-grandfather’s buried suitcase, Stanley’s lawyer and the Attorney General come to Camp Green Lake to intervene. As the Warden tries to grab the suitcase, Zero shocks everyone by reading Stanley Yelnats’s name. Zero’s bravery and reading ability highlight his transformation and represent his newfound strength of character, desire to improve, and friendship with Stanley.
It was enough for Stanley to buy his family a new house, with a laboratory in the basement, and for Hector to hire a team of private investigators. But it would be boring to go through all the tedious details of all the changes in their lives. Instead, the reader will be presented with one last scene, which took place almost a year and a half after Stanley and Hector left Camp Green Lake. You will have to fill in the holes yourself.
At the end of the story, the narrator presents the theme of transformation by describing the changes in Stanley’s and Zero’s lives since leaving Camp Green Lake. To begin with, the narrator uses Zero’s given name, Hector, showing Hector’s transformation from “nothing” to someone. Then, the narrator describes how Stanley and Zero’s newfound wealth allows Stanley to improve his family’s living situation and Zero to hire investigators to find his mother. Finally, the narrator presents a scene that allows the reader to surmise that the Yelnats’s status has improved and Hector has found his mother.