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72 pages 2 hours read

Gary Paulsen

Hatchet

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1987

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Character Analysis

Brian Robeson

Brian is a 13-year-old boy who is struggling with his parent’s recent divorce and the secret knowledge of his mother’s affair. He is angry, withdrawn, and obsessed with the secret. He is flying out to spend the summer with his father when the pilot suddenly dies, leaving him alone in the wilderness with nothing. At first, Brian struggles to cope, even succumbing to a suicide attempt when a rescue plane flies overhead without noticing him. However, his ability to think positively and learn from his mistakes allows him to survive a nearly impossible situation. Brian makes the most of each setback he suffers until he is confident in his ability to survive in the wilderness for a long time, possibly forever. Ultimately, Brian becomes attuned to nature and comes to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of his shelter by the lake. Even after returning to city life, he is forever changed (for the better) by his experience.

Brian’s Mother

Very little is known about Brian’s mother, yet she is a constant presence in the novel. Brian witnesses her kissing a strange man and soon after learns that his parents are divorcing. The secret of his mother’s affair erodes their relationship and haunts Brian.

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