Stanley Yelnats’s family is cursed thanks to his “no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing great-great-grandfather” by the same name. Because of this curse Stanley gets shipped off to Camp Green Lake, its no summer camp, instead it is a detention center. Troubled boys are sent there to build character while they dig holes. Or at least that is what he is lead to believe. Eventually Stanley discovers that there is more to the story, the warden is searching for something and is getting the boys to do the work. Stanley teams up with Zero which could prove beneficial not just at camp. Together they face both the bullying of the other campers and the adults running the camp.
There is a lot of bullying in this book but the interesting thing is that it is more pronounced in the adults behavior. This could be because adults are expected to act more mature and be role models for children especially if they are trying to rehabilitate children. For instance Mr. Pendanski is very mean to Zero and makes remarks about how dumb he is when he is there to help encourage these boys to change their lives around. Mr. Pendanski for the most part tries to help the other boys but for what ever reason picks on Zero. Another example is when Sir brings Stanley to see the Warden because he is being accused of stealing sunflower seeds. The Warden gets so upset that she paints her nails with a polish that has snake venom and then scratches Sir’s face. Now that skips bullying and goes straight to abusive.
The kid on kid bullying mainly focused on pressure. X-ray was the leader and made Stanley and the other feel like they had to do everything that he wanted them to do. The best example would be when Stanley found a fish fossil and brought it to Mr Pendanski hoping to get the rest of the day off of digging. He didn’t get the day off but he did get a visit from X-ray telling him that if he should find anything else that he should give it to him claiming that since he had been there longer than Stanley that it was only fair that he should get the time off. Stanley gave in and was happy about it because he didn’t want to get on X-rays bad side. Also they had him confess for a few things that he didn’t do. In return they gave him a nickname, Caveman, which made him feel like he was a part of the group.
There was a good article, Bullying as True Drama, by Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick in The New York Times that talks about how teenagers define bullying and drama. The authors talked about how teens that find it hard to identify themselves as oppressed or oppressors are more likely to use the term drama over the term bullying. This is because using the adult terminology has psychological affects on them that most are not ready for. It means that they have to acknowledge that they have a problem or that there is a problem. This is where I believe fiction can help, both books and movies. If there are more stories told from the point of view of the person being bullied (or at least it is their main character) and showing them how to deal with it, then those that are being bullied can have a good example and those that are doing the bulling can get a different perspective. It would also be a good way for adults in there lives to bring up discussions about bullying . The important thing is to be sensitive to both parties, like the article says chances are the bully doesn’t even know that they are being one or has not come to terms with it yet. The bully could also be a victim of bullying themselves and is acting out their own anger. Either way it is topic that needs to addressed and should not be ignored.