by Gary Paulsen
Hatchet Contrasting Regions: The City and the Woods Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
The scenery was very pretty, he thought, and there were new things to look at, but it was all a green and blue blur and he was used to the gray and black of the city, the sounds of the city. Traffic, people talking, sounds all the time—the hum and whine of the city.
Here, at first, it was silent, or he thought it was silent, but when he started to listen, really listen, he heard thousands of things. Hisses and blurks, small sounds, birds singing, hum of insects, splashes from the fish jumping—there was great noise here, but a noise he did not know, and the colors were new to him, and the colors and noise mixed in his mind to make a green-blue blur that he could hear, hear as a hissing pulse-sound and he was still tired. (4.52-53)
At this point in the book (just after the plane crash), Brian is bewildered by the natural world around him. It's totally different from anything he's known before in the city, and it's totally overwhelming to him. What he first hears as a silence turns out to be full of sound, full of life—right away he has to start adjusting his understanding to his new reality.
"I'm hungry." He said it aloud. In normal tones at first, then louder and louder until he was yelling it. "I'm hungry, I'm hungry, I'm hungry."
When he stopped there was sudden silence, not just from him but the clicks and burps and bird sounds of the forest as well. The noise of his voice had startled everything and it was quiet. He looked around, listened with his mouth open, and realized that in all his life he had never heard silence before. Complete silence. There had always been some sound, some kind of sound.
It lasted only a few seconds, but it was so intense that it seemed to become part of him. Nothing. There was no sound. (5.50-52)
The silence that Brian introduces into the forest by his yelling is a silence deeper and more profound than any silence he's heard before. Just like at other points in the book, the world of nature here gives Brian a brand new perspective on the world he's known in the past; it makes him see things in a new way.
Two years before, he and Terry had been fooling around down near the park, where the city seemed to end for a time and the trees grew thick and came down to the small river that went through the park. It was thick there and seemed kind of wild, and they had been joking and making things up and they pretended that they were lost in the woods and talked in the afternoon about what they would do. Of course they figured they'd have all sorts of goodies like a gun and a knife and fishing gear and matches so they could hunt and fish and have a fire. (6.1)
Brian's memory of the time he played at being lost in the woods with his friend points up how innocent—and ignorant—his view of nature had been before the plane crash. Now the game has become deadly serious, and the park that "seemed kind of wild" is nothing like the wilderness he's come to know since then. Reality check, comin' at you.