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Hatchet by Gary Paulsen-Free Online Study Guide/Notes/Book Summary
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Brian Robeson

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.

The Pilot

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 than himself.

Brianís Parents

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.

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