Hatchet, written by Gary Paulsen, is a great fiction novel that I would recommend for all adolescent readers. In Paulsen’s Hatchet, a young 13 year – old boy is involved in a plane crash in the wilderness of Canada when the pilot of his plane has a heart attack and dies mid-flight. Throughout the novel, we see two major themes displayed through the actions taken by the main character, Brian Roberson, for survival: perseverance and change or growth. Brain, through the many adversities he faces in the wilderness, perseveres to accomplish great feats in order to survive. Through his own wit, as well as some information he recalled learning or hearing about from his past, Brain was able to learn from his mistakes and change into someone who was not just surviving in the wilderness but become forever connected to nature.
The first major theme, perseverance, is seen a plethora of times within this novel. We first see Brain’s depiction of perseverance when he searches for and builds upon a shelter in which he can sleep to be protected from the dangers that lurk in the wilderness at night. We then see Brian begin to search for food in the wilderness – specifically berries. When doing so, he is encountered by a black bear. We further see Brian’s perseverance through the process of him being able to start a fire in his shelter with his hatchet. The biggest display of perseverance, however, is after the search and rescue plane passes Brian, which also introduces the theme of change. After this plane passed, Brian persevered through his suicidal intentions and thoughts of hopelessness to commit himself to life and cling to the idea of hope; that someone would eventually find him. From here, Brian is able to develop a functioning survival bow with an arrow in which hunt birds and such for food, develop a system for catching fish, and upgrade the protection around his shelter so that small animals cannot intrude during the night. He is furthermore able to persevere through a moose attack, a tornado, and to ultimately build a raft so he could move to the sunken plane that was made visible because of the tornado and retrieve the survival pack. This, in addition, led to his rescue as he was able to turn on the emergency frequency transmitter.
The second theme, as I stated in the previous paragraph, is change or growth. We see the change Brian goes through in small amounts during the novel. The major change that takes place, however, is after the search and rescue plane passes by Brian’s location without seeing him. From here, Brian changed into a completely different person who was committed to survival, as well as connection and in tune with the wilderness itself. Brian didn’t merely observe the wilderness around him but became instinctively aware of his surroundings; learning the different noises, patterns, and tendencies of the animals. Brian matured in his observation skills, ability to conserve food, ability to utilize the materials around him, and the ability to utilize each and every day to aid in his survival.
In conclusion, Hatchet is a fantastic novel that would capture the attention of all adolescent readers. The thrilling turn of events from a bear encounter, moose attack, poisoned by berries, and many other drastic events truly brings the reader into the story. It was a very enjoyable read and I furthermore recommend it to any and all avid adolescent readers!