Free Study Guide for Hatchet by Gary Paulsen|
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ONLINE NOTES FOR HATCHET BY GARY PAULSEN BOOK REVIEW
The chapter begins with Brian in the water, standing quietly, hoping to make the kill. It is then, at the moment when he most needs the help, that he has another encounter: he has been looking for the little birds to perhaps kill one when he hears a sound before he even knows he’s heard it. There, two steps ahead, is a mother bear, and had he taken those steps, he would have been between her and her two cubs. He stands there patiently and waits for her to leave just as he did with the other bear and once again, it works. Then, he sees a wolf, up and away from the lake. The size of this animal and its yellow eyes momentarily freeze him, but he soon comes to the realization that it, like the bears, are just another part of the woods as he is now, and the fear leaves him. He nods to it and the three that follow it and smiles at each. They quietly trot away, and once again, Brian realizes that he is completely changed now. In the forty-seven days since he has crashed in the lake, he has died and been re-born. He is reminded of the awful night when the plane had turned and left him behind and how he had laid on the rocky ledge all night with a feeling he called clouddown, a feeling when made him want to take the hatchet and end it all. He had even taken his hatchet and made many cuts on his arm as if to test his ability to kill himself. However, the blood he sees at first light makes him hate what he thinks of as the old Brian - the weak Brian - and at that moment, two thoughts come into his mind. First, he is not the same, and second, he will not die, and he will not let death in again. He is new.
So, Brian takes on the new task of making the perfect bow. He uses the
lace from his tennis shoe to make the bow string and he makes the bow
itself several times until it is more flexible. Then, he realizes that
he is not hitting the fish, because he has forgotten that water refracts
- bends light - and that the fish are not where they appear to be. He
needs to aim just under them. Finally, he makes his first hit, and it
is a golden moment for him. He has found a way to live. Using a green
willow stick, he roasts the fish over his fire, eats the tender, moist
meat inside, and finally begins to satiate his hunger. When he takes the
scraps and inedible parts of the fish back to the lake to get rid of them,
he sees hundreds of other fish swarm around them to clean them up. Now
he sees that he has bait. It is a day of great pride for Brian, because
he has lost hope that he will ever be found, but he has gained new hope
that his knowledge will let him survive. He thinks he is full of “tough
The most important ideas presented in this chapter concern how Brian has changed. He has become a part of the wilderness where he now is living. He is a creature of the woods just like the bears and the wolves. He has also overcome his despair at the rescue plane leaving him behind, and he has built within himself a new hope that he will survive even though he no longer believes that he’ll ever be found. His “tough hope” has been formed from despair, but if creates a new and even more fascinating individual who is truly now a man.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Hatchet".
. 09 May 2017