Throughout this essay, I am going to show how Stanley’s character develops within the novel. ‘Holes’ is about a boy called Stanley who is sent to a Young Offender’s Institute, wrongly accused of stealing a pair of trainers. During his stay, many things happen to make new friends, run away, and even find some treasure. Also, digging lots of holes! At the beginning of the novel, we find out early on that Stanley is overweight because it is mentioned that “He was overweight and the kids at middle school often teased him about his size.”
Because of this, he is compassionate and self-conscious. Later on in the book, however, the reader discovers that Stanley has lost weight by the time he has found Zero under the boat. We know this because Louis Sachar writes, “A couple of months ago, he would never have been able to fit through. He’d lost a lot of weight.” This shows that his experiences digging holes and eating smaller meals can have made him thinner and fitter. As a result, his fitness has improved throughout the novel.
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Stanley and his father have always been very discouraged with luck, sometimes so much that they became “so discouraged that they started to believe in the curse.” Stanley relies on the curse as an explanation for all of his bad luck. The curse has been in the family for generations, set because his great-great-grandfather stole a pig from a gypsy. It seemed to be lifted when Stanley carried Zero up the mountain. After this event, Stanley finally has a bit of luck when he finds the treasure and is released from Camp Green Lake. Back at home, Stanley’s father finally invents something, after years of bad luck, the day after Zero was carried up the mountain. Stanley learns to take responsibility for his luck and becomes more mature.
Stanley is very truthful. This is shown during the court scene when Stanley says, “I was walking home, and the sneakers fell from the sky.” to the judge. No one believed him. Later he realizes that it might have gone better if he had lied a bit. Further on, he becomes a bit more sensible, taking the blame for the sunflower seeds and not telling the Warden the actual location of the lipstick tube, also when writing his letter home. He tries to make the letter to his mum sound comforting, telling her that he is having a great time with plenty of new opportunities. Throughout the novel, he learns to manipulate the truth to tell people what they want to hear, making life that bit better for him.
Near the beginning, Stanley appears to be a family man but rather lonely when it comes to friends. He was even bullied at school by children smaller than him. In the end, Stanley has a whole gang of friends. When he and Zero return, “soon all the boys from Group D had gathered around him and Zero.” During the story, Stanley’s friendship develops, with Zero in particular. He shows he is a good friend when he teaches Zero to read and looks after him in the desert. Stanley is not as lonely anymore and is more sensitive towards others. Another change is Stanley’s ability to cope with pain.
When he first arrived at Camp Green Lake, he found it hard and painful to hold the shovel. As the book progresses, we notice that his skin has hardened, “His skin had gotten tougher. It didn’t hurt so much to hold the shovel.” Stanley’s strength also develops. At first, he finds it hard to dig, but as he spends more time digging, he notices that “His muscles had strengthened, and his hands were rough and callused.” Stanley can also fight if he has to. He isn’t as soft anymore. Digging holes and living with the other boys has developed his character.
One of the important points when looking at Stanley’s character development is the part where Stanley is up the mountain with Zero and he realizes that “he couldn’t remember the last time he had felt happiness” At Camp Green Lake he has friends and he likes himself. He’s not so depressed anymore. A little later on, in the same scene, Stanley decides there is “no place he’d rather be” He now feels that it is destiny that made him go camping at Green Lake, meet Zero, and eventually break the curse.
He is no longer convinced it’s just a coincidence, or bad luck, simply destiny. Stanley has realized what true happiness is, having a good friend to help and be with. The character of Stanley develops in many ways throughout the course of the story, but these are the main points. I think his personality has changed more than his physical strengths, but they have both changed tremendously.