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by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. The story of Hatchet is Brian's story. From the first page to the last, we are concerned about what Brian thinks, how Brian feels, and what Brian experiences. Given this, why do you think Paulsen chose to write the story in the third person (that is, from the point of view of an outside narrative voice), rather than in first person, with Brian telling us the story directly? Does the book gain (or lose) anything from this decision?
  2. A whole lot happens between the end of Chapter 12 (when the rescue plane flies overhead) and the beginning of Chapter 13 (a full forty-two days later) when we see Brian hunting for foolbirds. Why do you think Paulsen chose to skip over this part of the story and just tell us about it after the fact? How does his decision affect your understanding of Brian? How would the book have been different if these events had been related in full as they happened?
  3. Although the situation with his parents is not ideal, Brian seems to come from a reasonably well-off family. Both of his parents have good jobs, and the background memories presented in the book suggest that he's never before gone hungry or really wanted for much of anything. How do you think the book might have been different if Brian had come from a less advantaged background? If, for example, Brian's family had been homeless, or had had to struggle to put food on the table? How might Brian's understanding of nature, and of the contrasts between the woods and the city, have been different?
  4. Did Hatchet change the way you feel about nature, or about wilderness places? After reading the book, do you feel more inclined to spend time out in the natural world? Less inclined? 
  5. Imagine how the story might have been different if Brian had found himself stranded in the Florida Everglades. What if the plane had crashed in the rainforest? Or the desert? How would Brian's survival challenges have been different? Would he have had to adapt in different ways? 

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