The story Holes appeals to children because it allows them to live out one of their worst fears, being imprisoned, without actually having to experience it themselves. Children can relate to Stanley Yelnats because he was blamed for something he didn’t do (an important pair of shoes fell on his head) and sent to the absolute worst juvenile work camp. The story ends happily when Stanley and some of his fellow inmates expose a scandal and are freed from Camp Green Lake. Children see themselves in Stanley and their lives in Holes.
The first big appeal of the story is Stanley himself. He and his family have the worst luck of anyone he knows, thanks to his “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.” Thanks to this ancestor, the Yelnats are cursed and Stanley is not the least bit surprised when he is falsely arrested and sent to Camp Green Lake. Many kids think that they’re unlucky when bad things happen to them, and this is a demonstration of what they’re trying to get across to adults.
The next important aspect of the story is the cruel warden who makes the boys dig holes all day long. Children always believe that their punishments are too extreme; this punishment illustrates how children feel about punishments and chores in general – they are pointless, never-ending and ridiculous. The inmates are given little food and water and have to meet an exact quota on the holes they dig. A child who must make his bed neatly or dislikes what is served for dinner will often feel like he is being tortured.
In conclusion, children enjoy Holes because they can refer to it and say, “This might really happen”. They like the extreme nature of the punishment and of Stanley’s retribution. For Stanley, it means that the Yelnats curse is over. If Stanley’s family can overcome their curse, than so can anyone.
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