Stanley Yelnats is the protagonist (main character) of the story.
He is a kind and gentle person but he always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He is accused of stealing the old sneakers of a famous baseball player and is sent to Camp Green Lake as punishment.
At school, Stanley is bullied by Derrick Dunne, is teased for being overweight, and has no friends.
Like other members of his family, Stanley remains hopeful and does not become easily depressed, even when conditions at Camp Green Lake give him reason to become so.
Stanley displays loyalty and compassion towards Zero, who becomes his first-ever real friend. As the story progresses, Stanley grows in strength, both physically and mentally, and becomes an unlikely hero.
Mr Yelnats is an inventor - and not a very successful one (yet!). He believes that, for a successful invention, you need to have ‘intelligence, perseverance, and just a little bit of luck’ (p. 8).
Stanley says his father is smart and has perseverance but no luck (because of his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather, of course).
Mr Yelnats is trying to discover a use for old sneakers. He is always very hopeful that the luck of the Yelnats family will change and so he remains positive and enthusiastic.
Mrs Yelnats seems to be very patient - it can’t be easy living with an inventor - but she also has a good sense of humour.
She is very worried about Stanley going to ‘camp’ so Stanley assures her in his letters that he is having fun.
Elya Yelnats is Stanley’s great-great-grandfather. He was born in Latvia and, at the age of fifteen, fell in love with Myra Menke whose head was ‘as empty as a flowerpot’ (p.29).
Unlike the other boys his age, Elya is a romantic who prefers to listen to the stories of Madame Zeroni rather than play games. He seeks Madame Zeroni’s advice on how to win the love of Myra Menke but, when Myra cannot make up her mind who to marry, Elya mutters, ‘Marry Igor… You can keep my pig as a wedding present’ (p.35) and decides to travel to America.
However, in doing so, he forgets his promise to Madame Zeroni and causes the Yelnats family curse. Elya marries Sarah Miller and they have a child, the first Stanley Yelnats.
Miss Katherine Barlow
When we first meet Miss Katherine she is a sweet, gentle schoolteacher who falls in love with Sam the Onion Man. It seems that she is the only person in Green Lake who is not a racist.
Miss Katherine is caught kissing Sam and who the town turns on. After they murder the man she loves, Katherine turns into the notorious Kissing Kate Barlow, a highway robber who kisses the men she murders.
Trout Walker confronts Kissing Kate Barlow many years later as he searches for the stolen treasure, but she dies after being bitten by a yellow-spotted lizard before he can discover where the loot is buried.
Sam the Onion Man
Sam’s onions are famous in Green Lake because they have the power to heal and to protect against yellow-spotted lizards.
Sam is a kind, gentle and very clever man. When there are problems in Green Lake he says, ‘I can fix that’.
He is murdered for kissing a white woman, Katherine Barlow, by the jealous Trout Walker.
Trout is a bully who is in love with Katherine Barlow.
He uses his power and money to influence people but, in the end, loses everything.
He is the murderer of Sam the Onion man and his feet smell like dead fish!
Trout searches for Kate Barlow and her treasure but he never discovers where it is buried and spends many years digging up the dry bed of Green Lake in search of it.
Derrick is the school bully who drops Stanley’s notebook in the toilet. Even though Stanley complains about the bullying, the teachers don’t take it seriously because Derrick is small.
At camp, Stanley fantasizes about the boys from Group D beating up Derrick.
Hector Zeroni (Zero)
Hector is a quite boy who everybody thinks is stupid - especially Mr Pendanski. Hector has a brilliant maths brain, however, and when Stanley teachers him to read, Hector shows he can learn very quickly. ‘I’m not stupid,’ he says, ‘I know everybody thinks I am. I just don’t like answering their questions.’ (p.99)
Hector is abandoned as a small and is forced to grow up on the streets and in homeless hostels. He is at Camp Green Lake as punishment for stealing a new pair of sneakers but he seems like it there because it is, at least, a home and he like digging holes.
Throughout the story Hector proves himself to be a very loyal friend to Stanley.
Madame Zeroni is an old Egyptian woman who becomes friends with Elya. Elya seeks her advice over his love for Myra.
Madame Zeroni directs Elya to carry one of her pigs up the mountain to drink from the stream.
Then, after Elya has given the pig to Myra’s father, he is to come back and carry Madame Zeroni up to the mountain to drink from the stream. If he fails to do this, Madame Zeroni will curse his family for all eternity.
The Warden is a bitter woman who can be very mean. She treats everyone around her cruelly an is only nice to people who she thinks she can get something out of them.
She is the grand-daughter of Trout Walker who forced her to spend her childhood digging holes in search of buried treasure.
As the camp warden, she now uses the boys to do the digging for her. The Warden wears rattlesnake venom nail polish which she uses to ‘punish’ Mr Sir.
Mr Pendanski is the camp counsellor. ‘Mom’, as the boys call him, seems friendly at first - as if he really does care about the boys at Camp Green Lake.
He tries to get them to talk about themselves and to be supportive of one another. However, his treatment of Zero suggests that he is not very nice at all.
Mr Pendanski is also weak; he is not prepared to stand up against Mr Sir or The Warden even though he knows what they are doing is wrong.
Mr Sir is grumpy because he has given up smoking. To ease his cravings he constantly chews on sunflower seeds.
He is terrified of the The Warden and will do almost anything she says.
After the nail polish incident, Mr Sir picks on Stanley by denying him water.
Construct a profile for one or more of the characters. You might like to do this as Glogster poster (see your teacher for Username and password).