Hatchet By: Gary Paulsen The setting in the book, Hatchet, is the Canadian wilderness, near an L shaped lake. The story takes place in the late 1980's, and it is written in the third person limited. The omniscient narrator is the person speaking throughout the story. The mood varies from being peaceful and relaxing at times to being exciting and intense at other times. The protagonist of Hatchet is Brian Robinson. He is a 13 year old from the city.
Alone in the wilderness, after surviving a plane crash, Brian encounters challenges as he faces survival. The antagonist in Hatchet is nature. Wild animal attacks and a tornado and survival are the main dangers Brian faces. The secondary characters in the story are Brian's mother and the pilot. Brian's mother never makes a direct appearance, but she surfaces in Brian's thoughts throughout the story.
The other character who has a major impact in the story is the pilot. While Brian is flying to his father's home in the Canadian oil fields, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. With the pilot's death, Brian is left alone in the airplane, which continues to fly until it runs out of fuel and crashes. The major conflict in the story is external: boy versus nature.
Brian fights the wilderness to survive. The minor conflict is boy versus self. Brian's internal conflict is that he is aware that his mother is having an affair. This knowledge gnaws at Brian because he is holding it inside of himself and he does not know how to handle of it. The turning point in Hatchet is when a tornado brings the crashed plane to the surface of the lake, and Brian is able to recover the survival pack from the plane. The survival pack turns out to be a real treasure because it contains the following: food, gun, sleeping bag, cook set, knife, emergency transmitter, and a first aid kit.
The falling action occurs after Brian gets all of the survival supplies out of the survival pack. While Brian is fixing himself food that came from the survival pack, he tries to figure out how the emergency transmitter works by flicking the switch. Brian thinks that the transmitter is broken because he does not understand its function. The climax of the story occurs when the plane flies over and lands on the L shaped lake. The denouement is when Brian is flicking the switch back and forth on the emergency transmitter and he inadvertently leaves it on. The pilot who rescues Brian picks up the distress signal from the emergency transmitter.
Later, when Brian arrives back at his home, his parents almost get back together. Brian comes close to telling his father about his mother's affair, but in the end he never says a word. Eventually things go back to normal, and Brian's mother resumes seeing the man with whom she had the affair. The theme of Hatchet is that even in the most difficult circumstances one learns lessons which can richly enhance life.