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Free Study Guide for Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

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SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / METAPHORS / IMAGERY / SYMBOLS

Other elements that are present in this novel are symbols and metaphors. Symbols are the use of some unrelated idea to represent something else. Metaphors are direct comparisons made between characters and ideas. There are many symbols and metaphors used by the author such as:

1.) Brian’s mother sitting in a station wagon with a strange man with blonde hair symbolizes the Secret he can’t tell which brings him tremendous pain.

2.) The reflection of a large bird flying from the top of the real forest symbolizes that Brian, too, can be free and fly when he accepts that he is responsible for saving himself.

3.) Mr. Perpich, his English teacher, symbolizes the positive idea that Brian his is own best asset.

4.) His body is changing which symbolizes the deep changes in his mind as well.

5.) When the plane turned just as Brian gets his signal fire going, it symbolizes the boy’s great despair that he will never be rescued.


6.) A feeling Brian called clouddown, a feeling which made him want to take the hatchet and end it all, represents despair.

7.) The hatchet given to him by his mother symbolizes survival as it is the one tool he could never have done without.

8.) When Brian sees his face is cut and bleeding, swollen and lumpy, his hair is matted and there is a cut on his forehead, his eyes are slits in the middle of all the mosquito bites, and he’s also covered with dirt, it a is a metaphor for how fragile his life has become.

9.) The bear eating the raspberries, the mother bear and her cubs, and the wolves are a metaphor for Nature and how it can turn from serene to dangerous in an instant.

10.) Brian’s designation of “tough hope” is a metaphor for how he has grown and matured and kept hope ever-present.

11.) When Brian is blinded for two hours by the skunk, it is metaphorical for how blind he has been about his life.

12.) The Day of First Meat is metaphorical for the steps in Brian’s maturation and growth.

13.) The attack of the moose and the devastation of the tornado are metaphors for the sudden and expected events in life that can destroy us or make us better.

14.) The plane’s tail standing out of the lake makes Brian think again of the pilot, and he feels a massive sadness and wants to say something appropriate even though he doesn’t know the right religious words. He ends up just saying, “Have rest. Have rest forever.” This is metaphorical for faith and the impact it has in our lives.

15.) After Brian puts the rifle together, he senses that it removes him from the wilderness, and he’s not sure if he likes the change very much.


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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Hatchet". TheBestNotes.com. . 11 May 2008
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