Mr. Sir 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.

One of the antagonists in 'Holes' by Louis Sachar is Mr. Sir. He's a rough camp counselor, but he has a different side that may surprise the campers. What is Mr. Sir really like?

Who is Mr. Sir?

Think for a second about someone who might be considered a bully. What is that person like? How does he/she act?

Mr. Sir, one of the camp counselors at Camp Green Lake, is by all accounts a bully. Under the direction of the Warden, he seems to take pleasure in being hard on the campers. He taunts the boys as they dig their massive holes in the blazing sun and reminds them that they aren't in a 'Girl Scout camp.'

What is Mr. Sir Like?

He presents as a tough guy. He talks tough, has a gruff demeanor and even sports a tattoo of one of Camp Green Lake's nastiest predators: a rattlesnake. Mr. Sir seems to like to assert his authority over the campers but, like a true bully, he is insecure on the inside despite appearing so hard on the outside.

To show Stanley, the story's main character, that he is in charge, Mr. Sir refuses to refill Stanley's canteen during days of digging. Stanley would line up with the others at the water truck, and Mr. Sir would let the water drip and miss his canteen. One day, Mr. Sir grabs a full canteen from his truck and gives it to Stanley. Knowing Mr. Sir's ways, Stanley doesn't trust Mr. Sir's canteen and dumps out its contents instead of drinking from it.

There is a scene that shows Mr. Sir's weakness in which Stanley witnesses the Warden smack Mr. Sir across the face with her freshly painted nails that are covered in rattlesnake venom. Mr. Sir falls to the ground and writhes and wails in pain from the scratches. The Warden also insults him during this scene, and he takes both her physical and verbal abuse.

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