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Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: The Lessons Brian Learned in The Wilderness

  • Subject: Literature
  • Category: Books
  • Essay Topic: Hatchet
  • Pages: 2
  • Words: 738
  • Published: 09 Jun 2021
  • Downloads: 48
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The adventure fiction, “Hatchet”, by Gary Paulsen, tells an inspirational story of a thirteen year-old boy who has to survive in the wilderness due to a plane crash with nothing but a hatchet. This time in the wilderness teaches him a lot. It teaches him the importance of being persistent, resilient and optimistic when he has to overcome challenges in the wilderness; it teaches him the moral characters, such as being grateful to all his belongings, being respectful to the nature, and being frugal as a person; it also teaches him the ability to observe, to think thoroughly, and the skills he needs to master. These qualities and skills are not only vital in the wilderness for Brian to survive, but also relevant in real-life.

Brian’a experience in the wilderness teaches him the importance of mental toughness through various challenges. Once, a porcupine pricks Brian’s leg with extremely sharp quills. While he’s pulling out hundreds of quills, Brian cries out loudly in severe pains, but soon, he realises that this just means nothing, crying and feeling “sorry for himself just didn’t work”. This moment is pivotal for the change of Brian’s character and this realisation shows Brian’s resolve to stay positive and determination to survive in the wilderness. Brian also demonstrates resilience after encountering a tornado which devastates almost all his tools and surroundings drastically, including his bow and arrow, and even his shelter, but instead of being frustrated and depressed, Brian calmly accepts it and rebuilds his shelter and other necessary infrastructures with only his hatchet. These characteristics help Brian to develop his mental toughness as it’s crucial for Brian to survive in the wilderness. In the similar way, it is important to be resilient and optimistic in coping with difficulties in real life, as these qualities can help people manage their stress and maintain a good attitude. No matter how big is the obstacle or difficulty, people who are resilient and optimistic can always overcome the challenge in a positive way.

Brian’s time in the wilderness teaches him to be grateful to what he has and to be respectful to the nature. Lacking of food was never a concern for Brian when he was back in the city. Food is always being there. ‘When he was hungry he went to the fridge, or to the shops, or sat down at a meal his mum cooked.’ Everything is well-prepared for Brian and he always takes it for granted, but when Brian lives under hardships in the wilderness, he suddenly recognises the convenience of city-life and the comfort of living with his mum, he feels grateful to all he had, whilst feeling a sense of guilty. Living in the wilderness teaches Brian the importance to cherish those beautiful moments with his friends and families. On the other hand, Brian also shows respect to the nature, and to the animals. When Brian finds the rifle in the survival kit, and holds it in his hand, he instantly has a strange feeling which he feels that he isn’t part of the nature. He considers himself as an ‘exception’, a ‘cheater’, and he would rather put more effort and time into his survival, than break the ‘rule’ of nature. This is a pivotal moment for Brian as he learns how to respect his surroundings, both the animals and the nature. Similarly, learning to be grateful and respectful is the fundamental step to establish a connection between friends and families in real life. If you are grateful to others, you would get rewarded accordingly. However, an ungrateful person could only receive overwhelming hatred from others. When getting along with people in real life, it’s also important to respect others, because people are always kind to those who respect themselves, while it’s difficult to socialise with those who don’t know how to respect others.

Through his time in the wilderness, Brian perceives the importance of observation and the power of knowledge. For instance, Brian notices that sparks would generate from striking the wall with his hatchet, thus he set up a fire. He finds the berry trees as he observes the routine of a flock of birds, and he always applies his previous knowledge to any situation, such as that he applies the knowledge of refraction of light that he has learned in a science class, which helps him catching the fish. Furthermore, Brian applies these skills in building his shelter and all other necessary tools. 

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Hatchet By Gary Paulsen: The Lessons Brian Learned In The Wilderness. (2021, Jun 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from
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