The Character of Brian in Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Categories: Hatchet

Imagine the feeling of being completely alone where no one can hear your cries for help, where no one can see you or begin to understand your pain, and where your once perfect and happy life is suddenly crumbling apart. Welcome to Brain’s world, a thirteen year old boy who’s parents are going through a bad divorce that ultimately causes him to resent his mother for being deceitful to his own father. The story “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen is about a young teenage boy that is constantly feeling the pressure and hurt from his parents divorce.

Brian’s mother sends Brian to his father’s house for the summer by plane. The plane crashes on the way to the airport in a secluded, dense forest.

Brian is forced to survive in the wilderness using only a hatchet that his mother gave him as a gift before he left to visit his father. Alone, lost, and afraid, Brian goes into survival mode, desperate to stay alive in the forest.

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I feel that I can relate to Brian because I too have felt scared and alone during certain points in my life where even though I was not physically lost, mentally I was.

“If his mother hadn’t begun to see him and forced the divorce, Brian wouldn’t be here now.” We all feel that we need some sort of explanation for the way things are or why they happen. In this quote, Brian shows that he is mad at his mother for cheating on his father and causing the divorce.

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He resents her and his built up anger towards her is starting to come out in this mess of a situation. I know that when I am angry or upset with the way things are going or happening in my life, I try to find some sort of reason why they are happening the way there are. For example, my mother once said something rude to my father in front of me that I did not agree with. I started to get upset with her and felt the need to cool down, so I went for a quick jog. As I was running down the hill, I tripped and sprained my ankle. Furious at the situation, I blamed my mother for causing me to have the need to go for a run in the first place.

“I am full of tough hope”, says Brian. This is the moment when Brian realized that suicide was not an option anymore. Brian had almost given up on everything. He could not take the pressure of the divorce, the constant bad thoughts and memories running through his head, and most of all; Brian could hardly find the strength to survive in the wilderness anymore. He may have contemplated suicide, but his tough hope came though and he told him self that he is strong and has a life worth living. I have been in situations before where I have contemplated giving up on trying. Whether it be an exam where I felt I was going to fail, so I would almost give up on studying all together, or if it was me putting everything into a relationship with someone and getting nothing back.

Yes I have been here before where I have almost given up on things, but I pulled through thinking and doing things right.” In this quote, Brian shows that he is growing up and learning from his experiences. Being stranded and lost in the forest, being forced to prioritize his life and what’s most important to him, and being caught in the middle of his parent’s divorced; ultimately made him a stronger person. He was able to grow up from these experiences and realized that patience and time is the key.

As a result, even though Brian went through some tough situations, tougher than any thirteen year old teenager would normally go through; he stayed strong and grew from the experience. He was able to see more clearly after it all, whereas earlier, he was sad, confused and scared. In the end, Brian Learned From the struggles and challenges of having to survive in the wilderness, which led to him becoming a young adult. I may have not gone through the same exact experiences that Brian went through, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because I can relate to it; as well as any teenager that has gone through that point in their life where they realize that it’s time to grow up and start acting and thinking like an adult. “Hatchet” is a true example of how to do so by showing how to overcome obstacle in life.

Works Cited: Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. New York: Scholastics Inc. 1999

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The Character of Brian in Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. (2022, Apr 11). Retrieved from

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