Why is Mullet Fingers so passionate in Hoot?
Mullet Fingers, or Napoleon Bridger, is so passionate about saving the owls because he identifies strongly with nature. Being outside, barefoot, and spending time among the wildlife has been his favorite activity since childhood. The boy has special talent for handling wild creatures. He catches mullet fish in his bare hands as they swim in the creek—hence his nickname. He caught a wild baby raccoon and brought it home, resulting in his mother sending him away to boarding school. He is a skilled reptile wrangler even though he is so young. He manages to deposit six alligators in the portable latrines, and he captures nine cottonmouth snakes, paints their tails, and tapes their mouths shut.
When Roy goes to the junkyard to visit Mullet Fingers after the emergency room incident, Mullet Fingers explains that he has been watching the wild habitat in Florida shrink year by year, ever since he was little. He is distressed by the disappearance of more and more of "the piney woods, the scrub, the creeks, the glades." When Roy takes a trip to the Everglades with his family, he understands the running boy's passion even more. He realizes Mullet Fingers's crusade against the pancake house wasn't just about a few burrowing owls, although they are important. It was a larger effort on behalf of "all the birds and animals, all the wild places that were in danger of being wiped out." Roy realizes that is why Mullet Fingers is so angry, and so determined to foil the plans of the pancake house company.