The plot of Hoot begins from one of the first days that Roy Eberhardt attends his new school in Coconut Cove, Florida. It follows after this point chronologically until Roy and his friends face down the executives from Mother Paula’s Pancake House. The plot goes back and forth between Roy’s experiences and those of Officer Delinko and and construction site foreman Curly Branitt. These three characters all experience a metamorphosis in that they mature into responsible adults, even though their ages are so widely disparate.
The author seems to choose this structural format to show the simultaneous journeys these men and this young boy are taking both physically and emotionally. It also shows how adults can be buffoons at first, but turn out to be a kid’s greatest champion in the end. He also uses the motif of a bildungsroman (a boy’s journey to manhood) to show Roy’s maturation process. In the end, the possibilities of decent behavior among both kids and adults seem to be the author’s greatest emphasis while he keeps his reader entertained with the silly characters and the funny sides of being a teenager in America.
Corruption - Another theme is corruption. This is another important idea presented to the young people who might read this novel. It presents the reality of the world, that there are people who do bad things out of selfishness and greed, and they often impact in devastating ways to people around them. Presenting this in opposition to the idea of integrity helps emphasize that we all have choices in how we behave and that just because someone is an adult doesn’t mean they are unwilling to lie to kids if it will promote their own intentions. The readers of this book can then see how their choices can determine whether they’ll be people of integrity or corrupt individuals.
Parental Love - A third theme is that of parental love. This lesson is seen in the juxtaposition of the Eberhardts and the Leeps. The Eberhardts love Roy and hold him to high standards of behavior. They are also willing to admit when they’re wrong and offer Roy the opportunity to make his own choices and learn from his own mistakes. They earn his respect and he earns theirs. The opposition is seen in the Leeps. Beatrice finds herself taking care of a father who can’t even make his own dinner, because she loves him. He seems like a good man, but he is unable to live his own life in such a way as to earn his daughter’s respect. His second wife is a constant disruption to any peace that there might have been in the Leep home. She is mean and uncaring and combative, the last kind of mother any girl should want to be. As a result, the example of these two sets of parents exemplify to the reader how parents should behave.
Integrity - A final theme concerns integrity. Roy’s decision to take up the cause of the owls shows that he values his character as a good man. Each and every person who takes the side of the underdog has this integrity in his character and is to be admired. Many of the characters in the story choose to change their selfish traits and take up side of the unprotected and become better people for it.
Growing Up - The theme of growing up is the most relevant of the novel. It is applicable to any young person who might read this book and learn through Roy’s example. It emphasizes that growing up means adjusting to change even when we don’t want to; it means making decisions based on a balance between the head and the heart and then accepting the consequences of those decisions no matter what they might be; it means having integrity and using the strength of it to help you survive; it means accepting people for who they are and trying to work with them even when they resist; it means appreciating your parents when they are trying hard to earn your respect; and it means learning that life will never be easy, but it can be interesting and delightful.
The rising action begins in chapter one when Roy first sees the running boy and out of curiosity and the desire for a friend resolves to find out the boy’s story. It continues until the confrontation with the Pancake House executives at the construction site.
The falling action occurs when everyone turns against Chuck Muckle and Mother Paula’s Pancake House at the demonstration. As a result, the building project falls through, the owls are saved, Mullet Fingers is free to live on his own, and Roy becomes a young man of integrity and compassion.
Third-person omniscient. It is written omnisciently as if viewed by a source outside all the action.
The author’s style for Hoot can only be described as somewhat tongue-in-cheek while at the same time expressing some serious ideas for the young readers he targets. For example, he uses silly names for the characters like Chuck Muckle, Beatrice Leep, Mullet Fingers, and Napoleon Bridger. The characters are often stereotypical like Dana Matherson who fits all the character traits of a typical bully and Officer Delinko who behaves like an eager young policeman who is made a fool by an unknown vandal. Furthermore, adults are often presented as buffoons and clowns while, even though some are silly and ornery, most of the kids understand their responsibilities and follow through when they must.
Obviously, Mr. Hiassen creates characters and situations that can be unrealistic, but his intent seems to be to emphasize the more serious ideas of integrity and responsibility while keeping his readers entranced by his story.