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by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet Family Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

The thinking started.

Always it started with a single word.


It was an ugly word, he thought. A tearing, ugly word that meant fights and yelling, lawyers—God, he thought, how he hated lawyers who sat with their comfortable smiles and tried to explain to him in legal terms how all that he lived in was coming apart—and the breaking and shattering of all the solid things. His home, his life—all the solid things. Divorce. A breaking word, an ugly breaking word. (1.6-9)

This is just a few lines into the book, and we're already getting a hefty dose of Brian's blues. For Brian, family means "all the solid things," everything comforting and stable and reliable, so it's definitely a major bummer that the divorce is taking all that from him. And then those comforts are taken from him two-fold, when he gets stranded alone out in the wilderness. Can't the kid catch a break?

Quote #2

No, not secrets so much as just the Secret. What he knew and had not told anybody, what he knew about his mother that had caused the divorce, what he knew, what he knew—the Secret. (1.12)

So now we know there's more bothering Brian than just his parents' divorce (as if that weren't enough). It's the cause of the divorce that's really stuck in his craw. At this point in the book, though, it's still a mystery just what Brian's "secret" is, and why it bothers him so much. We'll just have to keep sleuthing. Or, you know, wait until Brian tells us himself.

Quote #3

The big split. Brian's father did not understand as Brian did, knew only that Brian's mother wanted to break the marriage apart. The split had come and then the divorce, all so fast, and the court had left him with his mother except for the summers and what the judge called "visitation rights." So formal. Brian hated judges as he hated lawyers. Judges that leaned over the bench and asked Brian if he understood where he was to live and why. Judges who did not know what had really happened. Judges with the caring look that meant nothing as lawyers said legal phrases that meant nothing. (1.36)

In a way, the worst thing about the divorce for Brian seems to be how it lets complete strangers into their private family life. The lawyers and judges all seem like a bunch of phonies, and their sympathy is a shoddy substitute for the happy family life Brian once had.

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