Holes Chapters 37-40 Summaries

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

Stanley and Zero are still on the run, and they find themselves in a very difficult spot in Chapters 37-40. They turn to an old cure that makes everything okay again - but not before the story takes another twist that may change everything!

Previously in Chapters 33-36 of Holes by Louis Sachar

Stanley runs away from Camp Green Lake and in the desert, finds Zero hiding under a boat. Zero shares his space with Stanley, as well as the one-hundred-year-old sweet concoction, sploosh. Zero experiences major stomach pains when the two boys hike to the Big Thumb.

Chapter 37: A Long Hike

Stanley and Zero fight to reach the top, and with Zero's current health state, Stanley resorts to carrying him. Both boys are exhausted, and Zero struggles with the sploosh he ingested. All the while, they try to take their minds off the task at hand by continuing Zero's reading lessons.

Chapter 38: Onion Surprise

The situation becomes dire for the two boys; they are both severely dehydrated with no water in sight. On the last few steps to the Big Thumb, Stanley trips and takes both he and Zero down the mountainside. They fall into a muddy gully. This deep ditch offered some good news: if the gully is muddy, then rain must have fallen.

Stanley digs in the mud and finds an onion - something that the boys desperately needed. Stanley eats half of the onion and hands the rest to Zero.

The Boys Share an Onion

Chapter 39: A Confession

With no clean water present, Zero's health keeps fading. Stanley doesn't want to leave him for fear that Zero might not make it.

Zero then surprises both and confesses to something that he's been holding onto for a long time: Zero was the one who stole Clyde Livingston's shoes that got Stanley sentenced to Camp Green Lake.

Although this is quite the news, it doesn't anger Stanley. He focuses on his ill friend and sweetly sings to him.

Chapter 40: Onion Tonic


Sam is selling onions to Mrs. Tennyson, who credits the onion tonic for saving her daughter, Rebecca. While the doctor in town wanted to treat her by putting leeches on her, Sam insisted that onions would cure her. Mrs. Tennyson confirmed that the onion tonic he gave her made her fever break.

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