This study guide will help you analyze the novel Holes (1998) by Louis Sachar. You can also find a summary of the text, detailed characterizations, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.
Excerpt from the study guide:
In fact, "God's Thumb" turns out to be the salvation of the two boys. They do not climb the rock formation that looks like a thumb because it is over a hundred feet high (Part 2, 46%), but in its shade they find water and a field full of onions (Part 2, 41%). Both are enough for them to survive there for several days without any problems.
Without knowing it, Stanley and Zero have found the mysterious onion fields which used to belong to Sam, the onion merchant who lived there over a hundred years ago. Sam describes the place as one where "the onions grow all year round, and the water runs uphill" (Part 1, 88%). Indeed, Stanley wonders how "could there be water at the top of a giant rock?" (Part 2, 44%). "God's Thumb" thus remains a mysterious place even after we realize it is real.
The town of Green Lake
The fictional town of Green Lake is a place of the past. One hundred and ten years ago, it was located next to Green Lake, the largest lake in Texas (Part 1, 0%), and was a fertile and respectable place thanks to its lake: "It [The lake] was full of clear cool water, and it sparkled like a giant emerald in the sun. It was especially beautiful in the spring, when the peach trees, which lined the shore, bloomed with pink and rose-colored blossoms." (Part 1, 81%).
This is the town where teacher Katherine Barlow - future outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow - and camp director Linda Walker's ancestors grow up. Both parties are important to the development and history of the town. When Katherine Barlow forms a relationship with the black onion merchant Sam, they are both hunted by the townspeople: Katherine's schoolhouse is destroyed by an angry mob led by Charles Walker, and Sam is shot as he flees. Since the tragic breakup of the lovers, a kind of curse weighs on the entire town: "Since then, not one drop of rain has fallen on Green Lake. You make the decision: Whom did God punish?" (Part 1, 93%)
Twenty years after Sam’s death the town of Green Lake is unrecognizable. Green Lake has become a ghost town, the peach trees all dead, the lake "little more than a small pond full of dirty water" (Part 1, 98%). The prolonged drought has spoiled the soil , it is getting hotter and hotter every year, and the rains are stubbornly absent.The outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow returns to this place shortly before her death and buries her loot in the former lake. Today there is nothing left of the town of Green Lake.