Study Guide

Hoot Lies and Deceit

By Carl Hiaasen

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Lies and Deceit

As he buckled his seat belt, he said, "Mr. Branitt, there's one more thing I wanted to ask. I'm just curious."

"Fire away," said Curly, wiping his brow with a yellow bandanna.

"It's about those owls."


"What's gonna happen to them?" Officer Delinko asked. "Once you start bulldozing, I mean."

Curly the foreman chuckled. He thought the policeman must be kidding.

"What owls?" he said. (1.63-69)

Well this is just a case of baloney. Curly knows full and well that there are owls on the property.

Thank you, dumb-butt Dana, he thought. Now Miss Hennepin knows I'm telling the truth.

Well, most of the truth.

Roy had left out the part about the strange running boy. He wasn't sure why, but it seemed like the sort of thing you didn't tell a vice-principal unless you absolutely had to. (2.74-76)

Even though Miss Hennepin knows that Roy is telling the truth about Dana choking him, he still didn't tell her the entire truth. This begs to ask the question if withholding truthful information is the same as lying. It's a very fine line.

"It wasn't a fight," Roy insisted. "I only punched him to make him let go. Then I got off the bus and ran."

"And that's when you were struck by the golf ball?" his father asked, wincing at the thought.

"He ran a long, long way," his mother said.

Roy sighed. "I was scared." He didn't like lying to his parents but he was too worn out to explain the real reason that he had run so far. (3.50-53)

Roy doesn't want to lie to his parents, but that doesn't stop him from doing so. Then again, this is more of an omission of detail rather than a fully fabricated statement.

Without consulting her husband, she arranged for her son to be shipped off to a military prep school—the first of several failed attempts to "normalize" the boy.

He seldom lasted more than two weeks before running away or being expelled. The last time it happened, Lonna purposely didn't tell Leon. Instead she continued to pretend that her son was doing fine, that his grades were good and his conduct was improving. (10.50-51)

Lonna's on a train headed to Delusionalville. She is intentionally deceiving her husband and continues to lie until Mullet Fingers makes a public appearance at the demonstration.

"Tell me exactly what happened to Roy," she said.

Beatrice and the real Roy exchanged anxious glances. Her stepbrother had forbidden them from giving his name to the hospital, for fear that his mother would be notified. The boy got so agitated that Roy hadn't argued. When the emergency room clerk asked Beatrice for her stepbrother's name, address, and phone number, Roy impulsively had stepped forward and blurted his own. (12.10)

Obviously there is a mistake in identity. Or a really big lie. (We're betting on the latter). Later on, Roy's mom let's him know how serious it is to loan out one's identity.

The doctor crossed her arms. "So, Tex, let's get this straight. Your friend Roy is mauled at the soccer field by several huge dogs. Nobody tries to help him, and he remains unconscious all night and most of the next day.

"Yup." Roy bowed his head. He was a pathetic liar and he knew it. (12.35)

No doctor (or any adult for that matter) would accept this story without question. But we do give Roy some points for creativity.

Officer Delinko fought to contain his excitement. He'd actually done it! He'd caught the Mother Paula's vandal!

"I had him pinned and he got away," Curly was saying, "but not before I wrung his name outta him. It's Roy. Roy Eberhardt. Go ahead and ask him!"

"I don't need to," said Officer Delinko. "I know Roy Eberhardt, and that's not him." (15.154-156)

There are way too many people calling themselves Roy Eberhardt. And what makes this incidence worse than the first is that this one is done without permission from the real Roy.

"I got a quick question about the owls."

"What owls?" Chuck Muckle show back. "Those burrows are abandoned, remember?"

Curly thought: I guess somebody forgot to tell the birds.

"There's no law against destroying abandoned nests," the vice-president was saying. "Anybody asks, that's your answer. 'The burrows are deserted.'"

"But what if one a them owls shows up?" Curly asked.

"What owls!" Chuck Muckle practically shouted. "There are no owls on that property and don't you forget it, Mr. Branitt. Zero owls. Nada. Somebody sees one, you tell him it's a—I don't know, a robin or a wild chicken or something." (17.32-37)

Now we're getting to the borderline ridiculous. Chuck Muckle is determined to not let these owls ruin the construction of Mother Paula's pancake house. Obviously he's fine with pretending that the owls aren't there (when they clearly are), so it's not a far reach to say they're wild chickens if a couple show up for the party. Good cover, Muckle.

As the policeman approached the tin bucket, Beatrice shouted, "Don't do it! You might get bit-"
Officer Delinko didn't flinch. He peeked over the rim for what seemed to Roy and Beatrice like an eternity.

Jig's up, Roy thought glumly. No way he won't notice they're fake.

Yet the patrolman didn't say a word as he backed away from the bucket.

"Well?" Mr. Muckle demanded. "What do we do?"

"Kid's for real. If I were you, I'd negotiate," said Officer Delinko. (20.111.-116)

It's not very often when a player switches teams mid-game. In fact, we don't think it ever happens. But right there at the groundbreaking ceremony, Officer Delinko takes a stand against Mother Paula's and lies for Roy and Mullet Fingers.

NBC and CBS sent film crews to Trace Middle School to meet with the student protesters, as well as with faculty members. Roy lay low, but he later heard from Garrett that Miss Hennepin had given an interview in which she praised the kids who took part in the lunchtime protest and claimed she'd encourage them to participate. Roy was always amused when grownups lied to make themselves look more important. (Epilogue.10)

Unfortunately this happens in real life, too. Lying and deceiving are close relatives in the falsehood family. And what Miss Hennepin is doing is just that. She's trying to make herself come across as more supportive than she actually is.

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