Study Guide

Hoot Man and the Natural World

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Man and the Natural World

Of all the places the Eberhardts had lived, Roy's favorite was Bozeman, Montana. The snaggle-peaked mountains, the braided green rivers, the sky so blue it seemed like a painting - Roy had never imagined anywhere so beautiful. (2.27)

Montana is the be all, end all. In Roy's opinion, nothing could surpass the awesomeness of his old home. In fact, he can't even imagine another place coming close. That's setting the bar pretty high.

There, standing by the hole and peering curiously at one of the meatballs, was the smallest owl that he had ever seen.

Mullet Fingers chucked him gently on the shoulder. "Okay - now do you get it?"

"Yeah," said Roy. "I get it." (10.153-155)

And now the stars of the show! Roy meets the inspiration behind Mullet Fingers' creative protests.

"Ever since I was little," Mullet Fingers said, "I've been watchin' this place disappear - the piney woods, the scrub, the creeks, the glades. Even the beaches, man - they put up all these giant hotels and only goober tourists are allowed. It really sucks."

Roy said, "Same thing happens everywhere." (14.112-113)

Mullet Fingers is fed up. Not only is his home getting destroyed, but the land is getting commercialized. And Roy can certainly sympathize with him since he knows that the problem is widespread.

Truth was, he felt totally safe. The creek was incredibly beautiful and wild; a hidden sanctuary, only twenty minutes away from his own backyard. (14.157)

Roy is in love with this place. And sanctuary is another word for shelter or safe haven, so it's certainly a contrast to how he feels on the school bus or being hunted by Dana.

Yet he couldn't stop thinking ahead to the day when the owl dens would be destroyed by bulldozers. He could picture the mother owls and father owls, helplessly flying in circles while their babies were being smothered under tons of dirt. (15.4)

Roy paints quite the grim picture. But in the battle between animal and machine, machine will win every time.

That night, lying in bed, Roy felt a stronger connection to Mullet Fingers, and a better understanding of the boy's private crusade against the pancake house. It wasn't just about the owls, it was about everything - all the birds and animals, all the wild places that were in danger of being wiped out. No wonder the kid was mad, Roy thought, and no wonder he was so determined. (16.77)

After spending a day with his family experiencing the Floridian wild, Roy finally understands the passion behind Mullet Fingers' desire to stop Mother Paula's. Mullet Fingers has a connection to Coconut Cove similar to the one Roy has to Bozeman, Montana.

So Roy didn't look back and he didn't slow down. He pedaled as fast as he could, his arms taut and his legs burning.

He wouldn't stop until he reached the crest of his imaginary Montana mountain and coasted downhill into the coolness of the valley. (17.183-184)

Even though he's in Florida, Roy's mind is still living in Montana. This shows how Montana is such a huge part of Roy that even while biking up a hill, he envisions the mountains of his old home.

The policeman was grimly preoccupied with another concern. His gaze shifted from the massive bulldozer to the bird burrow, then back again.

Until that moment, Officer David Delinko had been so busy worrying about solving the Mother Paula's case and saving his own career that he hadn't thought much about anything else. Now he understood what was going to happen to the little owls if he did his job properly, and it weighted him with an aching and unshakeable sorrow. (18.41-43)

And now it hits Delinko. It happens quickly but the police officer realizes the consequences of his actions if he's to catch the Mother Paula's vandal. And since it triggers a sense of guilt, it's safe to say that Delinko has a soft spot for the owls.

As dusk fell, they waited in a friendly and uncomplicated silence, though there was plenty they could have talked about. Except for the fence with its fading streamers, the land bore no sign that the pancake-house people had ever been there. (Epilogue. 46)

Roy, his father, Curly, and Officer Delinko all have the same idea and visit the old construction site to see the owls. With Mother Paula's gone, the land is getting back to the way it's supposed to be.

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