Fiction Archive

Isolation and Growth

Brooklyn O’Connell (Year 6)

Literary Essay

Isolation can bring out a lot of things in people, normally good things. In most cases you can learn a lot. We will be exploring how this cultivates new life and growth.  

In, Holes, Stanley is the main character. He was put in a Juvenile Correction Centre called Camp Green Lake. He sees only his fellow prisoners every day, so he is pretty much in isolation. This changed Stanley for the better. At first, Stanley is unsure of himself and doesn’t want to start trouble. As the book progresses, you see that he has become more self-confident and that he is almost willing to fight at one point. He isn’t very confident in himself though, but neither is he easily depressed. This helps him not miss his family so he can focus on digging the holes and getting through the horrible situation he is in.

Stanley also develops physical strength. The exercise from digging the holes helps him get fit, and from holding the shovel a lot, the skin on his hands toughen. He also learns to do heavy exercise with not much water, since there is little supply. This heavy exercise helps Stanley save Zero’s life, near the end of the book.

Stanley develops the confidence to make his first true friend, Zero. At first, he was resentful toward Zero. He had asked Stanley to teach him to read and write, but Stanley wasn’t up for it. “His muscles and hands weren’t the only parts of his body that had toughened over the past several weeks. His heart had hardened as well.” This quote from the book, shows that Stanley’s heart hardened towards Zero, so he doesn’t really like him. Later, his heart softens after he becomes friends with Zero. This can be seen when the narrator states “As Stanley stared at the glittering night sky, he thought there was no place he would rather be. He was glad Zero put the shoes on the parked car. He was glad they fell from the overpass and hit him on the head.”  

Stanley isn’t the only one who changed in isolation. His friend, Zero, changed a lot too. Zero is Stanley’s first friend, and a prisoner at Camp Green Lake. Everyone at Camp Green Lake calls him Zero because they think he’s worth nothing, but later in the book you see he is smarter than what he comes across as. Zero doesn’t talk much, but it is because he hates answering questions, and he is wary of lots of people because they mock him. Mr Pendanski teases Zero by saying, “You know why his name’s Zero? Because there’s nothing inside his head.” Zero eventually runs away from Camp Green Lake, and a few days later Stanley follows him and finds him. They become true friends, and Zero changes by stepping out of his shell, talking to Stanley a lot more and answering questions, which is something he once hated to do. Zero actually becomes very generous, because he shares something that has kept him alive called ‘sploosh’ with Stanley.  

In the book, Wonder, the main character is August. He has a face deformity, and he hates going near people because of how much they stare. “I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. I know ordinary kids don’t get scared at wherever they go.” August wants to feel like he is ordinary, but knows he is really not. He is in isolation by choice, unlike Stanley who is forced to be in isolation. August has an astronaut helmet, which he wears to isolate himself from others. He learns to take off the helmet and be himself, after losing the helmet. August changes a lot and is inspiring. He brings up the courage to go to school for the first time, which is a big achievement since he is starting at a new school with a face deformity.

Like Stanley, August also finds a true friend called Summer. August learns to stand up for himself and his friends, and he also learns to forgive Jack, who insulted him behind his back, becoming friends with him. August also finds out what kindness is and how to show it. At the end of the book, August gets an award. It is called the Henry Ward Beecher medal, which is traditionally awarded to people who volunteer a lot. Mr Tushman, the headmaster, explains that he researched the award and he found that Mr Beecher, who the award was named after, displayed kindness, courage and friendship. August receives this award for showing all these qualities. By giving August this award, it shows that Mr Tushman supports August and values him as part of the community.   

Isolation has a lot of impacts on people. It can build you up and help you grow. In these books, the characters are what they are at the end of the book because of the way isolation impacts them, and the setting they were in changed them. It formed new growth for most of the characters and made them better people. Being in isolation changes people in a way nothing else can do. 


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