Study Guide

Mullet Fingers in Hoot

By Carl Hiaasen

Mullet Fingers

We admit it. We've had some less-than-stellar nicknames. Our grandma called us Mousiekins. Our dad called up Scooter. Our older brother called us Ohmygodgetoutofmyroomyoubrat.

But none of those is as weird as Mullet Fingers.

Until, of course, you realize that catching mullets (the shiny fish, not the ridiculous hairstyle) is an awesome thing to do, and the name Mullet Fingers is actually high praise. But that kind of weird-to-awesome switcheroo is what Mullet Fingers has on lockdown.

When you meet him, he's a shoeless weirdo…but after you get to know him, you realize he's a kick-butt outlaw who has the makings of an awesome environmental activist, EPA agent, or snake-charmer.

First Impressions

But let's get back to the first time we meet Mullet Fingers…and think he's a total bizarre-o.

From the school bus window Roy describes the strange running boy:

[…] straw-blond and wiry, and his skin was nut-brown from the sun. The expression on his face was intent and serious. (1.4)

Oh, and he's shoeless. Which just makes him all the more intriguing for Roy. But Roy soon learns that being barefoot is the least of what makes the strange running boy unique.

And if that moment doesn't count as a first impression (they technically didn't meet), then their encounter in the woods certainly does. Unfortunately that doesn't go too smoothly. Roy doesn't even get a glance at Mullet Fingers' face because a hood is thrown over his head and he's tied to a tree. Pro-tip: this isn't usually the best way to make friends.

But making friends isn't at the top of Mullet Fingers' To-Do List. He rather get rid of his nosy visitor without disclosing too much information. So we're in the same boat as Roy when it comes to our first impression of Mullet Fingers—he's a total mystery.

Rebel With A Cause

Compounding the Mystery of Mullet Fingers is the fact that his name…is Mullet Fingers.

Okay, it's actually Napoleon Bridger—so we can see why he'd opt for something a little less colorful. (Symbolism alert: Napoleon was a little French man famous for being a military general and emperor. And "Bridger" suggests a bridge; a connection. Turns out, Mullet Fingers is both militarily minded—his vandalism is pretty tactical stuff—and is the "bridge" between Roy learning about the owls and something actually being done to help them.)

But Mullet Fingers isn't really keen on having a name and flat out tells Roy that he "don't want one and [...] don't need one" (14.165).

And that's not the only way he rebels against society.

In addition to relinquishing his name, Mullet Fingers also claims he doesn't need school. At least not at the moment. The formal name for ditching school is called truancy—and we hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it's totally against the law.

The nameless and school-less Mullet Fingers definitely fancies himself something of an outlaw. He even persuades Roy to start thinking like one when it comes to protesting the Mother Paula's construction.

But why go through all the trouble of breaking the law if it's because of something as useful as school? Well, Mullet Fingers argues that he already has all the education he needs. He tells Roy,

"I'm 'bout as smart as I need to be." (14.133)

In his defense: by going AWOL, Mullet Fingers does free up some time to think up a plan to save the owls. And at the moment, figuring that out is the most important item on his agenda. So all of his school ditching might end up working in his favor (apart from the whole not-getting-an-education bit).

Escape Artist

One of Mullet Fingers' special skills (that he clearly didn't learn in school) is running away. He had a lot of practice from his mother continually shipping him off to military schools. If you haven't noticed, Mullet Fingers doesn't really do well with schools—he bounces out of those places as quickly as he can.

The same goes for his little stint in juvenile detention. However, this time he incorporates an accomplice who is none other than bully extraordinaire, Dana Matherson. But instead of teaming up together, Mullet Fingers just uses Dana as a decoy so that he can easily escape alone.

There's something about Mullet Fingers that reminds us of mullets. Again—not the bizarre 80's "business in the front, party in the back" hairdo. The fish.

The whole reason why Mullet Fingers gets his nickname is because he's able to grab hold of these slippery little fish that seem to elude everyone else. And just like mullets, Mullet Fingers is hard to hold onto. Beatrice and Roy manage for a short time—but mullets aren't meant to be held forever.

Just like the fish, Mullet Fingers needs to be released (or allowed to escape) back into the wild.

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