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You know how, in the cowboy movies your grandpa just loves to watch, there's always a strong, silent type who comes in from somewhere like Montana and solves the problems of the whole town?
Yeah. That's not Roy Eberhardt…at least at the beginning of Hoot.
Roy's not exactly muscly. He's doesn't exactly keep his mouth shut. He does come from Montana, which makes all the kids at his school call him "cowgirl." Um, we're pretty sure the heroes in Westerns usually have names like Shane or Buck or Wild Bill.
But there's no doubt about it: Roy's our hero.
Without Roy, Mullet Fingers would still be playing pranks on the Mother Paula's construction site. Dana would still be whaling on the smaller kids in his class. Hey, even Roy's dad says that "nobody would've known what was happening" if Roy didn't bring it to their attention (Epilogue.19).
So who is this (not-so) mysterious Montanan? Let's take a closer look.
Roy feels like an outsider…because he is an outsider.
Having just moved to Florida because of his father's job, Roy finds it difficult to adapt to life in the Sunshine State. But he does find some friends in Coconut Cove: Garrett, Beatrice, and Mullet Fingers.
Garrett is the first friend we see Roy make. Even though they had some minor differences (the eternal battle that is snowboards vs. skateboards) Roy appreciates that Garrett is making the effort to get the know him. Hiaasen doesn't dig deep into their relationship but Garrett is a great ally when it comes to finding out information on Dana and Beatrice.
Beatrice is…a different story. Roy and Beatrice don't actually intend on being friends—mainly because Beatrice is totally terrifying. But as the story progresses, Beatrice ends up relying on Roy more and more. And Roy enjoys having one more person at school who likes him. Together, Roy and Beatrice form a team to help Mullet Fingers in saving the world's most adorable owls.
But it's the bromance between Mullet Fingers and Roy that is the friendship of the story. (The friendship between burrowing owls and crickets doesn't count.)
The day they spend on the shipwrecked crab boat at the secret creek solidifies their friendship. Roy feels like he can relate to Mullet Fingers—both boys have a soft spot in their hearts for the environment. Plus, Mullet Fingers is like a role model for Roy. The more that Roy gets to know Mullet Fingers and his goal of saving the burrowing owls, he sees how the wilderness of Florida is every bit as exciting as the wilderness of Montana.
I might have found this place all by myself [...] if I hadn't spent so much time moping around being homesick for Montana. (14.158)
Bonus? Fewer bears.
Despite being introduced to us as a shy kid who keeps to himself and eats alone at lunch, he quickly transforms, Hulk-style. (Okay, angry Roy hasn't quite mastered the Hulk smash, but we think there are definite parallels between Roy and mild-mannered Bruce Banner.)
Some gold medal moments:
Yeah—for someone who wants to "blend in quietly and not be noticed" (4.12) he sure does a lot to stand out.
But Roy puts a lot of thought into his actions and considers all of the consequences. He knows that he can't "spend the rest of the school year hiding from Dana Matherson and Beatrice Leep" (4.66). So, he makes the ultimate decision: to act.
Moment of honesty: while Roy's pants might not exactly be on fire, they're probably pretty toasty. This guy has some issues with telling the truth. But over all, he's a pretty good dude: he mainly lies to protect the people—and owls—he cares about.
And he moves past his dishonesty. Though there are times throughout Hoot when Roy blatantly tells whoppers (like at the hospital), we see moments of Roy battling his conscience when it comes to spilling all the beans…especially when Roy realizes that truancy is against the law and Mullet Fingers could get in a lot of trouble if caught.
So, because of his allegiance to Mullet Fingers, Roy doesn't share every single detail when finally coming clean to his father. (It helps that his dad is a pretty cool guy.)
But let's backtrack a bit.
Before he learns about Mullet Fingers, his lips are sealed about the strange running boy when he gets interrogated by Ms. Hennepin after punching Dana in the face. And with his parents, Roy also makes the decision to leave out the details on why he really ran all the way to the golf course.
However, Roy always has good reasons for his moments of misrepresentation—his bro Mullet Fingers and those teddy bear-looking owls. Even when Roy dupes Dana into sneaking onto the construction site, it's in hopes that Dana will get caught instead of Mullet Fingers.
And hey, Roy did blatantly tell his mom that he'd lie in necessary situations. Which kind of sums up Roy's relationship to the truth: he'll lie, but he'll tell the truth about it.