The Warden 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.

The Warden is the cruel antagonist in 'Holes' by Louis Sachar. She's obsessed with finding Kissin' Kate Barlow's fortune, and won't let anything get in her way. But, does she get it in the end?

Who Is the Warden?

The Big Kahuna. The Puppet Master. The Big Cheese. The Boss. All these names are fitting for Ms. Walker. The Warden, as she is more commonly known in Louis Sachar's Holes, is in control of all those who work for and live at Camp Green Lake. The Warden rules with an iron fist; intimidation is her favorite tactic. Grown men cower in her presence, and the campers follow the rules for fear of the Warden.

Readers are even warned about her in Sachar's description of the setting of the intensely hot, desert-like Camp Green Lake. There is no escaping the heat; 'the Warden owns the shade.' Apparently, there is no escaping the Warden's reach either.

The Warden's Family Life

With an antagonist - the character that works against the protagonist - as evil as the Warden, it's hard to think that she could have any family anywhere. It feels as if she should have hatched the way the other slithering antagonists in the story - the rattlesnakes and lizards - do.

However, she does have a family, and they're just as evil as she is. Her grandfather, Trout Walker, was responsible for crashing into the boat Mary Lou and killing Sam, the onion picker, over his interracial romance with Katherine Barlow. And just when you thought he couldn't get more sinister, Trout Walker and his wife Linda Miller, the Warden's grandmother, tied up Katherine Barlow and tried to rob her of her loot. Kate wouldn't tell the couple the loot's location, and died of a yellow-spotted lizard bite.

From there, the location of Kissin' Kate Barlow's loot was always of interest to the Miller family, and the Warden inherited her relatives' cruel nature and obsession with finding the loot. These characteristics likely came from her being forced to dig holes as a child, even on Christmas Day.

Would you want to dig, deep holes every single day in the sweltering heat looking for a famous outlaw's loot?

Camp Green Lake

The Warden runs a juvenile detention center, Camp Green Lake, on her family land that is touted as a rehabilitation center for bad boys. However, what the Warden really does to 'rehabilitate' the children is force them to dig holes - as wide and as deep as a shovel - each day to search for the treasure.

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