Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.

The Power of Fate to Determine Events

Although Stanley always believes that he is unlucky and in the wrong place at the wrong time, the events in the book seem to be the result of fate's reunification of members of the Yelnats and Zeroni families for the mutual benefit of both parties. Each coincidence in the book, including the shoes that Hector stole flying off the hood of a parked car and hitting Stanley on the head, is so unpredictable and unlikely that it appears fate is the determining factor in these characters' lives.

Read more about the theme of fate in the context of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The Benefits of Friendship

The benefits of forming solid friendships are clearly shown in Holes. Stanley and Zero's friendship lead to their mutual survival and wealth. Even though he is still facing adversity, once Stanley is secure in Zero's friendship he feels happier than he has ever felt in his life. False friends who are only friendly when they are getting something they want, like X-Ray, are shown to be dangerous. Once X-Ray stops getting benefits out of his friendship with Stanley, he becomes hostile towards him.

Read more about friendship as a theme in Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia.

The Destructive Nature of Cruelty

Cruelty abounds at Camp Green Lake, and its destructive results are frequently illustrated. The cruelty that Sam and Kate face in the town of Green Lake pushed Kate to become cruel herself and kill and rob people. When the Warden is cruel to Mr. Sir, he reacts by punishing Stanley. When Zero, normally a calm boy, is pushed past his limit by Mr. Pendanski's taunting, he reacts with violence, slamming his shovel into Mr. Pendanski's face. Cruelty is something that one person can cause in another and a cycle of violence and cruelty is shown to pass through many decades and several generations at Green Lake.

Read about the related theme of the cycle of violence in S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.

The Importance of History in Everyday Life

Three stories from separate times in history are combined in Holes to create one story and to create a theme of the importance of history. The narrator is given information from all three stories but Stanley and Zero only know the history that has been passed down to them through stories and song. Stanley and Zero are able to discover that they know that same song, but they do not know where the song came from so they are unable to discover that their ancestors came from the same town in Latvia. The history of Stanley's great- grandfather and his survival on "God's thumb" has been passed down to Stanley and this allows him to formulate a plan for survival when he and Zero run away from the camp. Stanley and Zero would have been further aided by knowing the exact history of Kate and Sam. If they had, then they would have known that the yellow-spotted lizards would not bite them because of all the onions they had eaten.

Read about the related theme of the past intruding on the present in Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons.