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by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet Chapter 12 Summary

  • Brian makes a fish spear, but can't get it to work. With his hatchet and a branch from a willow tree, he spent hours and hours carving a long spear with two points on the end, but when he tries to use it, the fish scatter away before he can spear them. 
  • He decides that instead of the spear, he needs a bow and arrow. It's go time.
  • He'll need to "invent" a bow and arrow, he decides, and he wonders if the very first bow and arrow had been invented in similar circumstances. (Since this weapon existed before anything we modern humans have written down, we can't quite be sure.)
  • He eats a turtle egg, then goes to pick some raspberries. At that point, he notices that his stomach feels full. He thinks that his stomach must have shrunk—even though he's hungry in a way, it takes a lot less food to make him feel that he's had enough. (And we're talking about a pubescent boy here.)
  • Searching for some wood to make a bow with, Brian is suddenly startled by a bird exploding into the air from somewhere near his feet. He had gotten so close to it—maybe he'd be able to catch one eventually with a spear or a bow. 
  • Brian finds some wood that he thinks might work for the bow. While he's working on cutting it from the tree, he hears a faint buzzing sound in the distance. He's so focused on thinking about the bow, though, that he doesn't realize for a while what the sound is—it's the engine of a plane, off in the distance! Rescue!
  • Throwing down the wood, Brian hoofs it as fast as he can to the place where he's set up the signal fire. As he runs, he pictures what it will be like to be rescued, how he'll feel when he's telling his father about everything that's happened to him. 
  • As he reaches the bluff and works to get the fire started, he hears the sound of the engine change, as if the plane has abruptly changed direction. He builds up the fire so it's large and powerful, but the plane has moved off into the distance. 
  • Convinced that this was his last chance to be rescued, Brian sinks to his knees in despair, all his hopes gone. "They would not come," the narrator tells us. "He was alone and there was nothing for him" (12.30).
  • And that's the end of that uplifting chapter.

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