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by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet Theme of Contrasting Regions: The City and the Woods

Brian's experiences in the woods fundamentally change his relationship to the natural world—that's pretty obvious. But they also transform his understanding of his life before the crash. Both directly and indirectly, Hatchet compares life in the woods to life in the city. Of course, there's better Chinese takeout in the city, but that's not all. Brian's time in the woods makes him appreciate for the first time the ease and comfort of life in civilization, but Paulsen also suggests that that ease comes at a certain price. Sounds like our author is trying to make a statement.

Questions About Contrasting Regions: The City and the Woods

  1. How would you describe Brian's attitude toward nature in the beginning of the book? How does it change through the course of the story?
  2. How does being immersed in nature make Brian see the city in a new way?
  3. According to Hatchet, one of the main differences between nature and civilization, is the difficulty (or ease) of finding food. Why is this so important? How does not having to worry about where your next meal is coming from affect your ability to focus on other things?
  4. Does the book suggest that life in the woods is somehow better than life in the city, or the other way around? Or are they just different? 

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Hatchet suggests that modern man—man in the city—lives an unnaturally easy life, and, as a result, has lost touch with what it really means to be human.

Nature is represented in the book as a scary, dangerous place that the urban man has successfully escaped.

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