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by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet Chapter 17 Summary

  • Brian gathers birch and wood and starts a fire. Even though he's moving slowly because of his injuries, his skill and experience allow him to get it started much more quickly than he did the first time.
  • Next, he rebuilds his shelter door as best he can. It's a rough job, but he'll fix it later when he's back on his feet. Seeing the damage the tornado has done to the woods, right now he's just feeling lucky to be alive. (And we're lucky to just be reading this from the comfort of our soft patch of grass.)
  • Lying next to the fire that night, Brian makes plans for finding food and reclaiming his camp the next day. He thinks about the tail of the plane sticking out of the water, and he suddenly remembers the survival pack that the pilot had loaded onto the plane. 
  • Yes!
  • He wonders what might be in the pack, and thinks how much he'd like to have it. He falls asleep thinking of the plane, and planning for the next day. 
  • In the morning, Brian makes a new fish spear so that he can have something to eat. The whole time he's working on the spear, though, he's thinking about the plane. He catches some fish and cooks them over the fire. 
  • Meanwhile, he's decided to try to make a raft to get out into the water and to lie on while he works to get into the plane. He tries several different ways, but nothing seems to work. 
  • Finally, it occurs to him that he needs to use tree logs with limbs sticking out so he can weave them together. Yeah, we were just about to suggest that.
  • He constructs a raft using this plan, and by late afternoon, he's done. That was easy.
  • He wades out into the lake, pushing the raft in front of him. It's slow going, and he realizes that it'll be dark by the time he reaches the plane. Although Brian's really impatient to get to work on the plane, he decides to turn back and start fresh in the morning. 
  • He catches more fish and cooks them over the fire. Thinking briefly of his mother and father, Brian looks at the amazing beauty of the sunset over the lake, wishing he had someone to share it with. That's a pretty lonely feeling. 
  • In the morning, Brian goes straight to his raft and wades out into the water toward the plane. It takes him over two hours to push and kick his way out to the plane. 
  • Using his torn windbreaker to secure the raft to the tail of the plane, he climbs up onto the tail and soaks up the rays. All the windows and openings in the plane are under water, and he tries to think about how he can get inside the plane. 
  • He thinks briefly about the pilot in the front of the plane, down at the bottom of the lake. Ugh.
  • Getting into the water and pulling himself around the plane as best he can, Brian tries to find a way in, but there is none. 
  • He's out of ideas.

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