Chapter 4

Stanley leaves the bus and finds he is dazed and has a dry throat from the heat. He sees a few tents, a few buildings, and two trees by a cabin. Other than the two trees he cannot see any other sign of plant life, not even weeds. Stanley enters a building with a sign signifying the beginning of Camp Green Lake Juvenile Correctional Facility and another sign prohibiting guns, explosives, weapons, drugs, and alcohol. Stanley thinks it is obvious that one would not carry these things into the camp. He meets Mr. Sir inside the air- conditioned building. Mr. Sir is eating sunflower seeds and says that they are his substitute for smoking. Mr. Sir introduces himself and commands Stanley to always call him Mr. Sir. Then he tells Stanley, "You're not in the Girl Scouts anymore."

Stanley removes his clothing so that Mr. Sir can make sure that he is not hiding anything beneath them. Mr. Sir gives Stanley two sets of orange jumpsuits, orange T-shirts, yellow socks, and one towel. Mr. Sir then tells Stanley that one set of clothing is for working and the other is for relaxation. Every three days one set of clothing will be washed. He has to dig one hole every day, even on Saturdays and Sundays. Every hole has to be five feet deep and five feet across. His shovel is five feet long and is to be used as a measuring stick. Breakfast is at 4:30am so that the boys can work before the sun is out and the day gets hotter. Mr. Sir tells Stanley that there is nothing to prevent Stanley from running away because there is nothing to run to. They are surrounded by desert and the only water is at the camp. Mr. Sir has a gun but he tells Stanley that it is only used to shoot yellow-spotted lizards. He asks Stanley if he is thirsty and when Stanley responds that he is, Mr. Sir tells him to get used to it.

Chapter 5

There are six tents labeled A through F. The counselors sleep in tent F and the campers, or juvenile delinquents, sleep in the other tents. Stanley is assigned to tent D with Mr. Pendanski as his counselor. Mr. Pendanski is friendly to Stanley and warns him not to upset the Warden. Mr. Pendanski tells Stanley he wants to help Stanley turn his life around. Stanley assumed it is useless to claim his innocence again so he tells Mr. Pendanski he will try to change. Mr. Pendanski introduces Stanley to two other campers. The campers all have real names and nicknames. Mr. Pendanski introduces Rex and Alan but their nicknames are X-Ray and Squid. The campers are so dirty that it takes Stanley a minute to realize that X-Ray is black and Squid is white. X-Ray wears glasses and asks what happened to Barf Bag. Mr. Pendanski, who will only call the campers by their birth names, replies that Lewis is in the hospital and will not be returning. Stanley is shown his cot, which previously belonged to Barf Bag. The cot is one of seven that are tightly packed in one room. Mr. Pendanski introduces José, Theodore, and Ricky who are also known as Magnet, Armpit, and Zigzag. Zero is the last boy that Stanley meets. Mr. Pendanski claims that Zero has his name due to the fact that there is nothing inside his head. Mr. Pendanski, called "mom" by the boys, asks everyone to help Stanley get adjusted to the camp and then leaves. Stanley asks Theodore where he can find water and Theodore reacts with violence. He grabs Stanley and throws him to the floor, saying that his name is Armpit. Then he tells him that there is a water spigot near the shower.


Camp Green Lake is described to resemble a prison or work camp. The orange clothing that the boys are forced to wear sound almost identical to the kinds of uniforms worn by the inmates in many prisons. The digging of holes every day not only sounds tiring, but also alludes to digging graves. Mr. Sir presents a menacing physical presence and has a mean personality. Mr. Pendanski, on the other hand, seems to be a surprisingly kind presence at Camp Green Lake. The fact that the boys call him "mom" suggests that he is like a caring family member to them, and his desire for the other boys to help Stanley also supports this. Mr. Pendanski's explanation of Zero's name, however, suggests his potential meanness. If Mr. Pendanski truly wanted to help every boy on their way to a better life then it seems doubtful that he would dismiss Zero as a boy with no brains at all.

Read an in-depth analysis of Zero.

Stanley is not as tough as the other boys at Camp Green Lake are. While Stanley is innocent of the crime he was accused of, most of the other boys are there because they are guilty. Although the nature of their crimes are unknown, the sign outside of Mr. Sir's office, which prohibits weapons, suggests that violence may be second nature to many of the boys. Stanley consideration of this sign as obvious is a sign of his naivete. The fact that Armpit punches Stanley simply for calling him Theodore shows that the boys are not only tough but also unpredictable. This insistence on nicknames is a revealing trait of the boys at the camp. By refusing to be called by their given names, it seems that the boys are cutting themselves off from their lives outside the camp. This may be because they refuse to look back on the events that have led to their internment at the camp, or it may be a sign of control for them. The boys have all been forced to come to Camp Green Lake and once there they are told what to wear, when to wake up, what to eat, and forced to dig holes. By naming themselves they are capable of deciding on their own identity and differentiating themselves from every other boy who wears the same orange jumpsuit and digs the same holes every single day.

Read more about names as a motif.