1) Initial Understanding:
Q:What are your thoughts and questions about the story? You might reflect upon characters,
their problems, the title, or other ideas in the story.
A: Some thoughts I had about Hatchet were that the book was written very well, that it gave an excellent explanation of the dangers of the wild, told how desperate people get for survival, and told that even if you feel death is best for you, try staying alive and you will eventually be rescued or find a means of survival. This was the case with Brian Robeson, our main character. May I also say that if this was a real story I would be amazed at the willpower of the survivor to keep alive for that long. After all, Brian was left on his own in the wild, but never gave up. I would have almost certainly given up! A few questions I had were, where did the author, Gary Paulsen, come up with this idea? Was it from a childhood story, something he saw on the news, or even personal experience? Those were a few thoughts about Hatchet.
Q:Choose one passage from the book that you think indicates an important change in the main character from the beginning of the story to the end. What do you think causes this change and how does the passage show this change?
A: A passage from Hatchet in the epilogue said, “Many of the changes would prove to be permanent. Brian had gained immensely in his ability to observe what was happening and react to it; that would last him all his life. He had become more thoughtful as well, and from that time on he would think slowly about something before speaking.” That was the exact writing of Gary Paulsen. I think that the main cause of this change was the two months he spent in the wild and how much harder it was than when the hero of a story gets marooned on his own. In the movies, the hero usually finds a ‘crystal clear spring’ to drink from, or finds a way of gathering a feast on the island. In this story, Brian manages for over two months in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a survival kit, his clothes, his bare hands, and a hatchet. The passage tells that not only was he physically different, but also his awareness and thought about his surroundings were much less acute before he crashed. In the book it stated that he was not fat, but slightly overweight. It also said that during the time he was alone, he lost seventeen percent of his body weight! Later in his life he would gain only six percent back. So Brian went through both physical and mental changes.
Q:What does this story say about people or human nature in general? In what ways does it remind you of people you have known or experiences you have had? You may also write about stories you have read or movies, works of art, or television shows you have seen. Use examples from the book to explain your thinking.
A: I think that the story says that humans in general live fairly safe lives, and if something like this happened to you, you would probably take at least 2 months just to get used to the fact that you have no form of entertainment, you had to hunt and cook for yourself, and you had no caring mother or father there with you. In your spare time you had to build on to your shelter. There comes another problem. You had to make a shelter! Imagine how hard it would be to make a shelter in the wild! This story reminds me of myself, in a way. It reminds me of how my perception of some things I have experienced completely differs from the actual truth. Like sometimes I am going to someplace, and I think, “This is going to be the most boring experience of my life,” and then it turns out to be great fun! Almost all of the movies I have seen about the hero having to hunt or live on their own involve them finding a great source. For example, in the Hunger games, by Suzanne Collins, Katniss (the main character) finds a clean spring with clear drinking water. Preparation is key in situations like this.