Study Guide

Hatchet Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

  • Brian awakens suddenly, feeling unbelievable thirsty. It's mid-afternoon now, and his face is badly sunburned. He wonders whether the lake water is safe to drink, and he thinks briefly of the dead pilot. So far, not the best day.
  • He's so thirsty, though. He finds a log sticking out into the water and walks out onto it, so that he's away from the muddy, murky water near the shore. He drinks until he can't drink anymore, then stumbles back to shore and promptly throws up. (There's a lot of vomiting in this book, too—did we mention that?)
  • Sitting back against the tree, he starts to think about his situation. At first his thoughts are all jumbled up, but then he breaks things down and thinks about them a little at a time. (We recommend this for analyzing poetry, too. Just saying.) 
  • He is thirteen years old. He's in the north woods of Canada. He does not know where he is. 
  • People will be looking for him, though; they will probably mount an extensive search. They may even find him sometime today, he thinks. He might be home tonight, eating a cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate shake. 
  • If only.
  • Suddenly Brian realizes that he is ravenously hungry and that he has nothing to eat. He has no matches, no food, nothing. 
  • He remembers an English teacher he once had, who was always telling kids to stay positive and to get motivated. (We all know that guy.)
  • So he empties his pockets and takes stock of everything he has. Not much—some coins, a nail clipper, a twenty-dollar bill, and some scraps of paper. He also has the hatchet his mother gave him, still hanging from his belt. 
  • He thinks about other things he has, too—tennis shoes, socks, jeans, underwear, leather belt, T-shirt, torn windbreaker, broken watch. And himself, of course.
  • Thinking that he'd trade everything he has for a hamburger, he says, "I'm hungry" out loud, then shouts it over and over. When he stops shouting, everything is silent for a few seconds.
  • Putting his things back into his pockets, Brian tells himself that the hunger won't be such a big deal, since he'll probably be rescued soon. He has plenty of water, which after all is more important than food. 
  • At the back of his mind, though, there's something nagging at him, something he's forgotten. He realizes, suddenly, what it is. No, not that he forgot to set his DVR—it's that when the pilot had his heart attack and his foot jerked the rudder pedal, the plane was thrown off course. Brian had let the plane fly for hour after hour after that, sending it way off its original flight plan, and far away from where the searchers would be looking for him. 
  • Bummer.
  • Brian realizes that the searchers may not ever find him. He starts to panic, but then he tells himself that they'll keep searching and it will be all right. They may not find him for a few days, but they'll find him. 
  • Meanwhile, he needs to make the best of things. He needs to find some shelter and some food. He needs to get motivated. 

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