Katherine "Kissin' Kate" Barlow is a posthumous antagonist in the novel and film Holes, as well as the main antagonist in the flashback segments.
She was portrayed by Patricia Arquette in the film.
Kate Barlow was a former schoolteacher who fell in love with an African-American onion farmer named Sam. When Charlens “Trout” Walker (who has a crush on her) sees the two kissing in the Green Lake schoolhouse, he leads a lynch mob to destroy the schoolhouse as well as to kill Sam, and is successful in the latter. Emotionally wrecked, she resolves to become an outlaw who kissed every man she killed, some of which were the men responsible for Sam's death.
Katherine Barlow was Green Lake's school teacher, who was famous for her beauty as well as her spiced peaches. When the schoolhouse's roof leaks, Sam offers to fix the roof in exchange for three jars of spiced peaches, and Katherine agrees to the deal. Every time he fixed one thing, Miss Katherine would always find another thing for him to fix because she liked his company. One evening, while teaching a class, Katherine is accosted by Trout Walker who proposed that she should be his girlfriend. Katherine kindly rejects him out of her love for Sam but when Trout forcefully demands her to date him, claiming that no woman ever says "no" to a Walker, Katherine rejects him again and asks him to leave. Trout walks away angry while Katherine looks longingly at Sam, who attended her class.
After the schoolhouse is fully repaired, Sam bids farewell and gives Katherine a feather from his hat, exchanging mutual affection. She then goes into the schoolhouse but watches Sam as he leaves on his boat. Later that night, she is found to be crying because she misses Sam while reading the same book that contained the same lines Sam recited to her while he was fixing the schoolhouse. Sam arrives unexpectedly and Katherine tells him that "my heart is breaking". Sam replies "I can fix that" and they kiss. Unbeknownst to them, Trout was riding his horse on a visit to the schoolhouse to see Katherine and he catches them kissing. While Sam and Kate share an embrace, affirming their love for one another, Trout is angered by this and alerts the town about his discovery.
Eventually, an angry mob arrives at the schoolhouse lead by an intoxicated and jealous Trout Walker and proceed to burn the schoolhouse to the ground. Katherine tries to stop the angry mob but it was too late and the schoolhouse was already in flames. Katherine then ran to the Sheriff's office in an attempt to stop the angry mob from destroying the schoolhouse. The sheriff was intoxicated and instead of helping her, asked for a kiss instead. Katherine pushed him away, reminding him that he was drunk. The sheriff revealed he always got drunk before a hanging and Sam was going to be hanged for his crime. Katherine tried to reason with the sheriff but he did nothing to appease her situation and asked for a kiss in exchange for her boyfriend's life, which she still refused because she loved Sam. The sheriff then attempted to force himself on her but Katherine got away and ran in an attempt to save Sam's life. Sam was coming back from the onion field when Trout followed after him on his speedboat. Katherine arrived too late and watched helplessly on the shore as Trout shot and killed Sam with his shotgun in the lake.
Mourning the death of her beloved, Katherine arrived at the sheriff's office the next day dressed in red clothes and wearing her famous red lipstick. She asked the sheriff if he still wanted that kiss he asked for, then pulled out her gun and shot him dead in retaliation for him not helping Sam. She then gave him a kiss, leaving a lipstick print on his forehead and left Green Lake in her beginning as outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow. She became one of the most prolific outlaws during that time, robbing most, if not all major banks. However, she felt little joy in what she did.
Years later, Trout and his younger wife Linda tracked her down in the ruins of the old schoolhouse and demanded to know the location of her buried loot. They took her into the desert and forced her to wander for hours, although she refused to tell them the location. Hours later, Katherine was sitting against the Mary Lou (Sam's boat) on the verge of dying from exhaustion and dehydration, wishing to be with Sam again. Miraculously, Sam appeared in the form of a ghost and told her "I can fix that" much to Katherine's happiness. However, their reunion was short-lived when Trout and his wife appeared with guns loaded demanding to know the location of the buried loot. Katherine was shocked and their interruption caused Sam's ghost to disappear, this reminded Katherine of losing Sam again and she aimed her rifle at Trout, intended on killing him. However, she decides not to kill him and throws her rifle down. Trout and his wife demand the location of her loot but Katherine refuses, telling them that the lake goes on for miles. She also puts a curse on them; she tells Trout that him, his children and grandchildren will dig for the next 100 years and will never find the buried loot. Barlow committed suicide by allowing the yellow-spotted lizard to bite her on the wrist and died while laughing.
Katherine in the beginnning
"My heart is breaking, Sam"
Kate with Sam after kissing for the first time
Kate embracing Sam
Kate trying to reason with the sheriff to save Sam's life