Children's Literature in Education

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 15–33 | Cite as

Reading in the Gaps and Lacks: (De)Constructing Masculinity in Louis Sachar’s Holes

  • Annette Wannamaker


Louis Sachar’s novel Holes (US, 1998; UK, 2000) has received much praise from both critics and child readers, who love the complex tall tale he has woven about two boys whose lives are connected by fate and an almost magical legacy of ancestral curses and obligations. Because the novel is not (on many levels) realistic, and relies heavily on folk tale motifs, fantastically exaggerated characters and situations, and surreal imagery, the boys, and the fictional world surrounding them, are constructed in less “politically correct” ways than fans of the book might initially recognize, or even want to admit. While Holes may, on the surface, appear to champion a kinder and gentler version of masculinity, on the level of the subconscious, it portrays a more visceral, more Oedipal version of boyhood attempting to distance itself from its mother (or (m)Other) and all things feminine. In the process of its narrative, Holes, as a text, often treats feminine traits, symbols, and characters as frightening, disgusting, or excessive aspects – like the gaping holes in the landscape or the cruel Warden – that need to be filled in, covered over, silenced, or expelled.


Holes Sachar boys masculinity gender 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

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  • Annette Wannamaker

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