© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.



by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet Chapter 4 Summary

  • The chapter begins by taking us back to thoughts of Brian's memory of the secret about his mother. (Yeah, this one isn't going anywhere.)
  • Brian was riding bikes with his friend Terry and rode past a shopping mall. Suddenly Brian caught sight of his mother sitting in a strange car with a strange man. Uh-oh. Details of the memory are burned into Brian's consciousness: "The hot-hate slices of the memory," the narrator tells us, "were exact" (4.8). So... tell us how you really feel, Brian.
  • Back to the present: Brian wakes up screaming (see?—more screaming), thinking that the plane crash is still happening. When he runs out of breath for screaming, he breaks down into sobs.
  • He's sore all over. He closes his eyes. When he opens them again, it's much later. He's lying with his legs in the water. He's still in a great deal of pain, but he's able to drag himself out of the water and crawl into some brush, where he lies on his side and goes back to sleep. 
  • When he wakes, the sun is just starting to come up. Although his body still hurts, and his forehead is badly swollen, he's pretty sure that nothing is broken. At least he's alive, he thinks, remembering the pilot in the plane at the bottom of the lake. 
  • Brian is wet and clammy and everything seems unreal. Kind of like that feeling you get right before your teacher hands out the math final. Except a zillion times worse.
  • Brian sits for an hour or two, watching the sun come up. As it gets warmer, hordes of mosquitoes and little black flies appear, biting him mercilessly, going into his nose and mouth. Yuck. 
  • He tries to fight them off, but there are too many, and he's finally forced to just cover his head as best he can with his torn windbreaker and keep brushing them off. 
  • Finally, when the sun comes up fully, the mosquitoes go away. Brian thinks that they're kind of like vampires, because they don't like the daytime. You'd think he was living in the 21st century.
  • Brian stands up, which makes him feel weak. The mosquito bites have made his hands puffy, and his eyes are almost swollen shut. This would definitely be a bad time for his school portrait. 
  • He looks around, taking in the calm, still lake, and the abundance of green trees.
  • There's a rocky ledge about twenty feet high to one side of the lake; Brian thinks that if the plane had come down on that side of the lake, it would have hit the rocks and he would be dead. Well, then.
  • At first, that makes Brian feel lucky—until he thinks about his parents' divorce. 
  • Brian keeps looking around. He sees a beaver lodge, which he recognizes from having seen one on a public television show. He sees hundreds of fish jumping and slapping the water in the lake. He's still in a bit of a daze, and he thinks about how different this place is from what he's used to at home in the city. 
  • This is one reflective kid.
  • He listens and hears lots of tiny distinct sounds—the splashing of the fish, birds singing, insects humming. It's all very new to him, and he's very tired. 
  • He sits down again, with his back against a tree, and falls asleep. Again with the napping, Brian? Guess plane crashes will do that to you.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...