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Hatchet by Gary Paulsen-Free Online Study Guide/Notes/Book Summary
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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 die.

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.


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.

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