X-Ray 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.

X-Ray calls the shots amongst the campers at Camp Green Lake, but how does he make it happen? This very unlikely leader has a plan and executes it well. Read the following lesson to learn more about X-Ray.

Who is X-Ray?

In a camp for bad boys - Camp Green Lake - there is a smooth-talking, unofficial leader of the D Tent delinquents, X-Ray. He has no particular talents; he's not the most intimidating camper, nor is he the biggest. He's actually one of the smallest guys in the group, with large, black-rimmed glasses, but X-Ray still calls the shots within a diverse group of juvenile criminals.

How Does He Do It?

X-Ray establishes his 'top dog status' with every new camper right away by warming up to them, breaking down the camp rules, and giving each person a nickname that they are called throughout the camp, even by some of the adults. For example, X-Ray created his own nickname because of his large glasses. Our main character, Stanley Yelnats, is large boy, and X-Ray gives him the name 'Caveman' when he arrives at camp.

X-Ray also operates on a reward system that the campers buy into, and none really go against. The most important time of the working day for the campers is break time at the water truck. Everyone is outside in the sweltering heat digging holes - as wide and as deep as a shovel - and X-Ray orchestrates the routine and the order that the boys get their canteens filled. X-Ray, of course, is first, and each guy after that is given priority over someone else. Stanley starts out at the back of the line, but when Stanley gives X-Ray a gold lipstick tube he finds while digging, X-Ray moves him ahead one place. This gold lipstick tube will give X-Ray an afternoon off of digging by the Warden, and to encourage Stanley and the others to turn in their findings to X-Ray, he rewards him publicly.

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