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In Louis Sachar's award winning book Holes, we see gender biases in many characters. The first and most obvious bias in this book can be found in the way Sachar's characters address Mr. Pendanski, one of the staff members at Camp Green Lake. Many of the boys refer to him sarcastically as "mom", and it is not because of his loving nature. Mr. Pendanski is neurotic about things the boys consider trivial and he has a tendency to nag them. Because Mr. Pendanski is portrayed as the antithesis of Mr. Sir, who simply drips testosterone, others view him as a female for his weakness. The fact that Sachar allows his characters to equate weakness with femininity, or more accurately motherhood, shows a certain bias towards the supposed strength that innately accompanies masculinity. This attitude is only furthered by the fact that the rest of the book as almost totally devoid of female characters other than the witch-like caricature presented to us in the form of the warden. She comes complete with a vicious disposition and poisonous fingernails.
The most interesting part of this bias is that the boys chose to name Mr. Pendanski "mom" in light of their own personal family histories. I think it can safely be assumed that not many of these boys had a functional relationship with their parents or they probably would not be in Camp Green Lake to begin with. These boys chose to place Mr. Pendanski, a whiny and unrespected man in the grand scheme of things at camp, in the role of mother. They did not turn to the only woman present at the camp, nor the man who disciplines them each day, to fill their maternal needs. Instead they turn to the weakest figure in their lives and mock him by referring to him as a woman. This demonstrates to us that Sachar considers femininity a weakness in this world and has no issues showing us. As Ernst wrote, "How easy is it to relegate girls to second class citizens when they are seen as second-class citizens, or not at all" (Ernst 67).
This point is only furthered by the fact that the only woman present is such a fairy tale character. She is portrayed to us as all but a sorceress and it can be assumed she has taken on this persona in order to survive in a predominately male post in a totally male dominated environment. Even in our class it was evident that many readers were taken aback by the fact that Sachar chose to make his warden a female. And so it again can be seen that Sachar has imparted onto us a bias that a real woman could not function in this world so he had to invent a completely fictional and grandiose one. With all the other characters in the book appearing so human, it seems obvious he turned the
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- he is a "normal" young man turns him into a conniving villain in this piece. Erik fits the jock/bully role perfectly and Bloor amplifies this by using Paul's voice in his writing. Paul deems Erik's goals as "The Erik Fisher Football Dream"
- Ernst wrote, "…changes in children's books often come long after they have been seen in reality" ...
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Patty Ann, Louis Sachar, Van, Sharon Creech, Mr. Pendanski, Carolyn Coman, Gender Bias, Erik, Edward Bloor, the idea, Hamilton, Cammy’s view, Jamie Saw, Ernst, Earl, Edward, Mr. Sir, Frances Foster Books, Paul deems, Paige, Paul, Heinemann, Sharon, Tina, Shirley, Arthur,
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New York, Virginia, Portsmouth,
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a warm and intelligent girl, Bloor,
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stereotypes, bias, gender, Patty, New York, Camp Green Lake, biases, Jamie, Louis Sachar, Edward Bloor, Two Moons, show, What Jamie Saw, Sharon Creech, images, this family, books, masculinity, skin and bones, Erik Fisher, gender roles, Cammy, Carolyn Coman, Gender Issues, perceptions, best way, intelligent, Virginia Hamilton, second class citizens, perfection, to survive, Puffin Books, nuclear family, a fairy tale, functional relationship, social climber, logical and, porcelain doll, fantastic light, Scholastic Inc, little brother, future generations, Frances Foster, femininity, human spirit, invent, love life, Tangerine, Paul, evil,