A tall woman with red hair stepped out of the passenger side. She looked even taller than she was, since Stanley was down in his hole. She wore a black cowboy hat and black cowboy boots which were studded with turquoise stones. The sleeves on her shirt were rolled up, and her arms were covered with freckles, as was her face.
The narrator introduces and physically describes the Warden as she arrives at the holes after X-Ray claims he found the lipstick container. The Warden has a striking appearance with bold features and showy clothing, details that add to her power and authority. She even appears monumentally tall from Stanley’s perspective below ground level. Readers may note that the Warden never toils in the holes herself, she merely shows up when she believes something of value has been found. These conspicuous features immediately delineate the Warden as a powerful, unforgettable character.
“Do you want to know my secret ingredient? . . . Rattlesnake venom. . . It’s only toxic while it’s wet.” She finished painting her nails, then stood up. She reached over and touched Stanley’s face with her fingers. She ran her sharp wet nails very gently down his cheek. He felt his skin tingle . . . The Warden turned to face Mr. Sir . . . She stepped toward him and struck him across the face.
The narrator describes the moment the Warden demonstrates a brutal cruelty when she scratches Mr. Sir with her poisonous nails. Readers may note her heartlessness and her desire to remind all around her of the pain she can inflict at any moment. She also enjoys the element of surprise. After Stanley takes the blame for stealing Mr. Sir’s sunflower seeds, Mr. Sir brings him to her, believing she’d punish Stanley. Instead, she attacks Mr. Sir like a rattlesnake. The Warden clearly doesn’t care about wrongs done to Mr. Sir, and she makes clear that he shouldn’t trouble her with such nonsense again. Her coldly violent response gives an alarming intensity to this scene.
“Let her ask questions,” said the Warden. “Just so long as I have the suitcase, I don’t care what happens. Do you know how long . . .” Her voice trailed off, then started up again. “When I was little I’d watch my parents dig holes, every weekend and holiday. When I got bigger, I had to dig, too. Even on Christmas.”
This dialogue between the Warden and the other Camp Green Lake adults as they wait for the deadly lizards to kill Stanley and Zero explains a great deal about the Warden’s character and connection to Camp Green Lake. The Warden reveals why she seems so hardened, cold, and calculated when events concern the boys and finding the suitcase. Her past experiences altered her so severely she has lost contact with reality. She is obsessed with finding the suitcase she was forced to dig for throughout her childhood. She won’t have peace until she finds that suitcase, and she doesn’t care who suffers along the way. In this scene, readers discover the Warden’s relationship to Trout and Linda Walker, a detail further strengthening the novel’s theme of fate.
[“]So this is what happened: Stanley tried to run away in the night, fell in a hole, and the lizards got him. That’s it. We’re not even going to give them Zero’s body. As far as anybody knows, Zero doesn’t exist. Like Mom said, we got plenty of graves to choose from.” . . . She stared at Zero and at the suitcase. “Why aren’t you dead yet?” she asked.
The Warden’s dialogue in the scene where deadly lizards cover Zero and Stanley proves her cold, sociopathic personality. Clearly, the Warden completely lacks morals and has tunnel vision for self-serving results, feeling no remorse or guilt about lying to the authorities or playing a role in the boys’ deaths. She even displays a complete lack of emotion as she asks Zero why he isn’t dead yet.
The Attorney General closed Camp Green Lake. Ms. Walker, who was in desperate need of money, had to sell the land which had been in her family for generations.
At the end of the novel, the narrator summarizes the characters’ outcomes. In this quote, the narrator officially identifies the Warden as Ms. Walker, a descendent of the Walker family. In a twist of dramatic irony, she ends up destitute and has to sell her family’s land in order to survive. This epilogue provides a much-deserved “punishment” for the Warden and clarifies the many character connections at Camp Green Lake.