He is a thirteen year-old boy when the story begins and a thirteen year
old man when it ends. He comes to the experience of survival alone in
the woods with deep emotional pain over his parentsí divorce and little
knowledge about how to take care of himself. However, in the fifty-four
days that he is missing, he evolves into a mature, more patient, more
compassionate young man. Even though the experience could easily have
killed him, it turns out to be one that will mold him into a much better
man than he might have been had the crash never happened. He then is a
role model for the reader in that he shows the reader how important it
is to learn to adapt and grow from the experiences that life brings when
one least expects them.
Although he appears very little in the story, he represents the unexpected
moments in life, when his death forces Brian to learn how to save himself.
He seems to be a kind person, and the fact that he shows Brian how to
work the planeís controls almost makes him the boyís guardian angel. Later,
his corpse, with the skull eaten away by fish, forces Brian to remember
that this man had once been a living, breathing human being. This thought
brings out the new Brian who can now think about the fate of someone other
They are with Brian all the time in his mind as he learns to survive
in the wilderness. His father comes to him in a dream to help him figure
out a way to make a fire. His fatherís hurt and confusion over the divorce
is also ever-present in Brianís consciousness. He thinks of his mother
when he is in his greatest despair and how she tenderly called him her
ďlittle scout.Ē However, most thoughts of his mother are a source of pain
and hatred as he remembers how he discovered her cheating on his father.
Itís only after he matures over the fifty-four days that he can come to
the realization that he can forgive her and keep the Secret hidden forever.
The story is a narrative told omnisciently about Brian Robesonís fifty-four
day survival in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash. It is told
in the motif of a bildungsroman as we view Brian maturing and coming of
age in his desperate desire to survive.
The rising action begins in chapter one when Brianís plane crashes in
the Canadian wilderness and he is forced to find a way to survive. It
continues with him learning new skills every day and growing and maturing
until he is finally rescued.
The falling action occurs when the plane lands and Brian is rescued.
It continues with the Epilogue in which the reader learns the aftermath
of Brianís experience in the wilderness and how it has changed him.
Third-person Omniscient. It is written omnisciently as if viewed by
a source outside all the action.
The theme of never giving up is one of the most prevalent
themes in that we are shown throughout the story that without hope, life
is meaningless. Brian learns this the hard way, but it is what sustains
him when he faces the most difficult challenges to his survival. It is
an important idea for the reader who will probably be a young person himself.
By following Brianís example, any young person who reads this book will
be able to understand how life is seldom easy and how hope must never
Another theme is perseverance and determination. This
is especially seen in how Brian learns to solve problems that will potentially
be life-threatening. He calls upon his intelligence, memory, and youth
to overcome such experiences as creating fire, fighting off a moose, building
shelter, and finding food. Again, for the reader, these experiences offer
anyone a example to follow in order to resolve issues in his own life.
A third theme is that of maturity. It is not enough that Brian
must grow up to hone his survival skills; he must also learn the compassion
and maturity it will take to keep the Secret forever secret. It teaches
us that sometimes shielding someone else from pain is a way we might be
able to forgive and forget our own pain.
Another theme is that of education. The pilot said that flying was just like anything else: it just takes learning. This will be especially applicable to Brian when he spends each day learning something new about survival and life in general. It emphasizes that life is all about learning and growing and anyone who realizes this will always be successful in the end.
Cite this page:
Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Hatchet".
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