Madame Zeroni in Holes

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

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

Even though Madame Zeroni only appears for a short time in 'Holes,' she has a big influence on what happens to Stanley and the rest of the Yelnats family. Read on to learn more about how the Yelnats and Zeroni families are connected!

A Quick Refresher on Holes by Louis Sachar

Holes is the story of Stanley Yelnats, a teenage boy who is wrongly accused of stealing a pair of shoes. Stanley is forced to serve time at Camp Green Lake, a camp for misbehaving boys that is located on land that once was a beautiful lake but is now a barren desert. In the desert, the boys are required to dig a large hole in the sand each day to search for treasure.

Yelnats in Latvia

Map of Latvia

Originally from Latvia, Stanley's great-great-grandfather Elya Yelnats fell in love with a girl named Myra, whose 'head was as empty as a flower pot', when he was fifteen years old. Unfortunately for Elya, someone else had impressed Myra's father with the promise of a fat pig in exchange for his daughter's hand in marriage.

Devastated, Elya went to his friend, an older Egyptian woman named Madame Zeroni and explained the situation. Madame Zeroni actually thought Myra marrying another man was a good thing because she didn't care for her much. Madame Zeroni felt that Elya belonged in America like her son.

Elya couldn't be convinced, so Madame Zeroni decided to help him out. She gave him her smallest piglet to give to Myra's father on Myra's fifteenth birthday. Even though the piglet was the runt, Madame Zeroni insisted that if Elya carried the pig up the mountain each day and let it drink from the mountain stream, it would grow to be larger than the pig of Myra's other suitor.

In exchange for the gift, Madame Zeroni said that at the end of the year, she wanted Elya to carry her up the mountain so she, too, could drink form the mountain spring. If he didn't take her up the mountain, a curse would be placed on him and all of his descendants.

When Myra couldn't make up her mind between her suitors, Elya gave up and took the opportunity to go to America. In his rash decision, he didn't worry about the agreement between he and Madame Zeroni and what the curse could mean to his future family.

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