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by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet Chapter 16 Summary

  • Brian stands on the edge of the lake thinking about the day of First Meat (this is what he calls the day that he caught that first foolbird). He also thinks about his First Arrow Day (when he first put together an arrow that flew with enough accuracy to hit a rabbit or a bird) and First Rabbit Day (when he killed and ate his first rabbit). Thankfully, the narrator doesn't give us too many details about the demise of Fluffy.
  • Today, though, Brian's trying to get a foolbird. Sidling up to it slowly, never looking directly at it, he advances on it little by little until he's close enough to shoot an arrow. The first two arrows miss the bird, but the third one finds its mark. 
  • Victory.
  • After retrieving the bird and his arrows, Brian walks to the lakeshore to wash his hands in the water. 
  • Suddenly Brian senses something behind him. He starts to turn, only to be attacked head-on by a large moose. The moose slams against him, throwing him into the water, then follows after him to attack again.
  • Struggling for air and hoping he's not hurt too badly, Brian surfaces to find the moose standing nearby calmly chewing a plant. Real classy, moose.
  • He tries to crawl out of the water, but the moose attacks again, slamming him back with her head and her hooves. Surfacing, Brian again sees the moose, chewing calmly, a few feet off. This is one indecisive moose. Moving very slowly so as not to attract her attention, he manages to make it to the shore and crawl up into the trees and brush. Whew.
  • Hiding behind a tree, Brian realizes his ribs have been hurt pretty badly. Something's wrong with his right shoulder, and he's having trouble breathing. When the moose moves off into the distance, Brian decides to go back to the lake for his spear and bow and bird, all of which he'd dropped when the moose attacked. 
  • After retrieving his things, he walks slowly back to his shelter, stopping often to lean against a tree and ease his breathing. Finally back in the shelter, he falls asleep trying to make sense of the moose's attack. 
  • Brian is woken up by a noise, a low roaring sound of wind outside the shelter. The pain in his ribs has lessened a little, luckily. But the sound scares him—it's a bad sound, and he feels as if it's "coming for him" (16.26). Dun dun dun.
  • Stepping outside of the shelter to study the sky, Brian thinks that the sound is familiar, like something he's read about or heard before on television. 
  • Then he realizes. It's the sound of an approaching tornado. Yowza. 
  • As he turns to go back into the shelter, the tornado hits, slamming him face-first onto the ground. It whips him against the wall of the shelter and scatters all of his belongings out onto the lake. Brian hears trees snapping outside and has to claw at the rocks to keep from being pulled out of the shelter by the wind. 
  • With all of his tools gone (except for his hatchet, still hanging from his belt), Brian lies in the darkness of the now fireless shelter, thinking about how quickly things have changed for him. This time, though, he's determined to rebuild—he has his hatchet, and he's tough, he thinks, so that's all he really needs. You go, Brian.
  • When he wakes up the next morning, Brian's ribs are still hurting. He goes to the lake to get a drink of water, and he sees something bright sticking out of the middle of the lake. No, it's not Excalibur
  • At first he can't figure out what it is, but then he realizes that it's the tail of the plane. The tornado somehow flipped the plane around and raised the tail up in the water. Seeing the plane, Brian thinks of the pilot, and a great sadness washes over him. He concentrates on the pilot and wishes him rest. 

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