Setting plays an important role in advancing the plot in Carl Hiaasen's novel Hoot. In general, the novel takes place in the Florida town of Coconut Cove. There is a construction site, where a Mother Paula's Pancake House is being built, and a lot of plot events happen there. Many plot events take place at Trace Middle School, where the main character is a student. Next, let's take a closer look at several chapters and their settings, considering why they are important to advancing the plot.
Chapter one opens with Roy on the school bus heading to Trace Middle School. It is there that he encounters the bully, Dana Matherson, and spies the running boy. Roy's curiosity about the running boy drives many plot events in this novel. This setting is also important because Roy also meets Beatrice "The Bear" Leep on the bus, as well as Garrett, his first friend. In a parallel episode, readers meet Officer Delinko and Curly, the construction foreman at the construction site of the new Mother Paula's Pancake House. Delinko is investigating vandalism at the site, which has been reported by Curly. The importance of this plot event is not clear to readers yet in chapter one, but the mystery will unravel as readers progress through the novel.
Chapter two takes place on the school bus and at Trace Middle School. Roy is put in a headlock by Dana Matherson, and he is frustrated. He backhands Dana to get out of his grasp so that he can chase the running boy. He chases him to a golf course, where he is hit in the head with a golf ball. Back at school, he is suspended from the bus for two weeks for hitting Dana. Officer Delinko and Curly are not in this chapter.
In chapter three, Curly reports more vandalism at the construction site. First, the survey stakes were taken out, and now alligators have been placed in the portable latrines. Officer Delinko sees the burrows that are home to tiny owls, but Curly denies their existence. Roy has to write a letter of apology to Dana. Readers learn Roy's father works for the Department of Justice.
Chapters four and five show Delinko conducting a stake-out at the construction site to catch the vandals. Snakes were placed to scare the guard dogs. Delinko falls asleep in his squad car, and the vandal paints his windows black. At Trace Middle School, Beatrice confronts Roy about following the running boy. Roy talks with her about acting civilized. Roy follows the running boy into the golf course again and finds his campsite (along with a bag of sparkle-tailed snakes) in the pines along the fringes of the golf course.
Chapters six and seven find Beatrice stealing Roy's bike and then taking him to see "Mullet Fingers," the nickname of the running boy. Roy has shoes he wants to give him, and Beatrice decides she can trust Roy with the secret that her step-brother, Napoleon, is a runaway. Officer Delinko gives Roy a ride home and tries to find out information about the vandalism.
Chapters eight and nine find Roy once again the victim of Dana's bullying on the bus, but this time, he has an ally. Beatrice steps in and takes care of Dana. Dana tries to get revenge after school by stalking Roy into a janitor's closet. Roy thinks he is done for, but Beatrice intercepts and ties Dana to a flagpole. Meanwhile, at the construction site, Curly has hired guard dogs to stop the vandalism, which has delayed construction and gotten him in trouble with his supervisor.
Chapters ten, eleven, and twelve take place at the construction site, Roy's house, and the emergency room of the Coconut Cove clinic. After finding Mullet Fingers moaning inside an abandoned ice cream truck, Beatrice realizes he needs medical treatment. She goes to Roy's house to ask for first aid supplies and meat. They tell Roy's mom they are conducting a science experiment. Mullet Fingers was bitten by one of the guard dogs, and the bites became infected. Mullet Fingers proves to Roy and Beatrice that tiny, burrowing owls live on the construction site, and he has been vandalizing the site in an effort to save them. Beatrice and Roy lie to the ER crew, telling them that Mullet Fingers's name is Roy Eberhardt. Mullet Fingers disappears, and Roy has to reveal the truth. Roy's father encourages him to stand up for the owls while still doing the right thing.
Chapters thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen take place at the construction site and Roy's house. Curly has moved into the trailer on site to catch the vandals and has set up mouse traps. Dana Matherson, who is chasing Roy, gets caught in the traps, and when confronted, claims to be Roy Eberhardt. Delinko brings him in for questioning and determines he doesn't have any connection to the vandalism. Beatrice turns up at Roy's house because her step-mom and dad are fighting. Roy starts to formulate a legal plan to help Mullet Fingers save the owls.
In the last chapters of the book, there is a groundbreaking ceremony planned at the construction site. Mullet Fingers is still conducting small acts of vandalism to delay the construction. Roy finds out that construction sites have to have an environmental impact report on site and that the one on the pancake house site is missing because the burrowing owls were mentioned. Officer Delinko discovers the owls, and when the Mother Paula's supervisor comes for the groundbreaking ceremony, Delinko shuts down the construction site. The actress who plays Mother Paula donates the site as an owl sanctuary.
The main settings for this novel are the construction site, the school bus, Roy's house, and Trace Middle School. Each setting serves as a basis for plot advancement. At each site, Roy meets characters who play a role in the main conflict of the novel, which is the construction site that threatens the burrowing owls.