Curses and redemption

Elya Yelnats and the broken promise

The curse of the Yelnats famlily is a key point in Louis Sachar’s novel Holes. In Stanley Yelnat's family, there is the "family joke" (Part 1, 5%), namely, whenever something goes wrong, Stanley's great-great-grandfather is blamed for it. The only thing known in the family lore is that this great-great-grandfather once stole a pig from an old woman, who then brought disaster on his whole family (Part 1, 5%). No one in the family actually believes in a real curse. Nevertheless, Stanley and his parents take pleasure in blaming the "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather" (Part 1, 5%) for their bad luck. Misfortune has haunted the entire family for generations.

In Chapter 7, the reader learns that Stanley's great-great-grandfather, Elya Yelnats, has indeed invited the wrath of an old woman, though not because he stole a pig from her, but because he broke a promise to her. In order to be allowed to marry the daughter of a farmer, Elya had to deliver a fatter pig than his competitor to her father. Since he was penniless, he asked his old friend Madame Zeroni for help.

The helpful Madame Zeroni gave him a piglet, which he was to carry every day up to a peak where there was an uphill stream. If he sang a special song to it while doing so, his piglet would grow fatter than any of his competitor's pigs (. The only thing Madame Zeroni expects from Elya in return is that he would also carry her up the mountain after his wedding, singing the exact same song to her. If he did no...

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