Using specific details, explain the impact of the setting on the plot in Hoot.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The setting in Hoot has a tremendous impact on the plot.  The setting of Florida illuminates the aspect of territoriality, which has a large implication on the plot.  Roy is an outsider to Florida, seen in how he really is not able to collect his bearings in the exposition of the novel.  He is an outsider to a world filled with insiders like Dana Matherson, who seek to enforce their own territoriality through abuse and intimidation.  This same parallel can be seen in how the industrialists representing Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House wish to pancake over the empty plot of land where the owls live.  The setting is one where there are definite insiders and outsiders, individuals and forces that possess power and exert it over those who don't have it.  Florida, as a setting with wide terrain of unincorporated land, helps to emphasize this condition of what constitutes an insider and an outsider.  The setting is critical because of the presence of land in Florida.  For example, the plot does not make much sense if the plot was set in urban Chicago or New York City.  It is in the setting of Florida where the plot's dynamics of power can emerge.

Delving into the setting's relationship with the plot, one sees the impact of respect on the development of the plot. At first, Roy is unable to fully appreciate the Florida setting, equating it to bullying and intimidation.  For Roy, Florida is the home of taunts like "cowgirl" and being smashed against a bus window.  He is unable to fully appreciate his setting until he is able to see more of it through his friendship and trust of "Mullet Fingers" and Beatrice.  From this point, the setting's power is transformative. Roy is able to generate a sense of trust in the environment as he learns how to trust Mullet Fingers in navigating its challenges.  The need to respect the environment becomes a larger element in plot and characterization.  Setting impacts plot in a similar manner as respect of the land is what provides the critical transformation in the novel.  The respect for the protected species of the owls is what enables the town to generate outrage towards Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House and their encroachment on the land.  Respect for and in the setting is what enables the plot to develop in the manner.

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