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Stanley Yelnats in Holes

Instructor: Valerie Keenan

Valerie has taught elementary school and has her master's degree in education.

Stanley Yelnats is the main character in the book Holes by Louis Sachar. Read about how this protagonist overcomes his family's curse and learns more about himself at the same time.

The Yelnats Curse

Stanley Yelnats is cursed. Actually, his whole family is. It all started with his great-great-grandfather, Elya Yelnats, who offended a gypsy named Madame Zeroni when he immigrated to, or came to, America from Latvia. Bad luck follows the Yelnats everywhere, and they always seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Elya himself was robbed of a large fortune by an outlaw named Kissin' Kate Barlow, and the Yelnats have since been a poor family. What's more, Stanley is overweight, picked on at school, and has no friends.

Can you relate to Stanley at all? Have you ever had a day where nothing seems to be going right? Maybe you drop your tray of food in the cafeteria, get into an argument with your best friend, and are grounded by your parents all in the same day! That's how Stanley's life is every single day.

When Stanley is walking home from school one day, a stolen pair of famous shoes falls into his backpack. He's arrested, charged with the crime, and sentenced to time at Camp Green Lake. While Stanley is under the impression that Camp Green Lake will have a lake (duh, right?), he is unpleasantly surprised to find that the lake has been dried up for hundreds of years. At the camp, each boy is forced to dig a hole every day in the hot desert sun to build character, but Stanley has a feeling that there's much more going on.

The Yelnats Family Curse So Far
Yelnats Curse

Uncovering the Truth

At Camp Green Lake, Stanley follows the rules and digs a hole every day just like the rest of the boys. He gets stronger and actually starts making friends. He even gets a best friend at camp--a boy named Zero who is actually an ancestor of Madame Zeroni.

Together, Stanley and Zero uncover the truth about why they're being forced to dig holes: The warden of Camp Green Lake is from a family that has been searching for Kissin' Kate Barlow's treasure for as many years as the lake has been dry. After Stanley and Zero unbury the treasure, they find that the treasure chest has Stanley's last name on it. It turns out Kate Barlow's treasure is the same fortune that was stolen from Elya Yelnats all those years ago.

Stanley and Zero unburied the treasure and broke the family curse forever.
Treasure

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