Study Guide

Hatchet Transformation

By Gary Paulsen

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There's a serious transformation at the heart of Hatchet, and we're not talking about a bunny turning into dinner. When we first meet Brian, he's completely obsessed with his unhappy family situation. He seems less interested in the world around him than he is in mulling over the details of his past. When he finds himself alone in the woods, though, he's forced to look outward, and he finds that—oh yeah!—there is a world out there, after all. He's forced to rely on himself and his own ingenuity in ways that he's never had to before. And that's what we call a major change.

Questions About Transformation

  1. How much is Brian's mental transformation tied to his physical transformation?
  2. Do you think Brian could have been "made new" without hitting rock bottom first? Is pain a necessary part of transformation?
  3. Part of Brian's transformation is that he pays attention to the world around him much more closely than he did before. Do you think this is a specific result of living in nature? Or is it something that could have happened to him in the city as well?
  4. At the end of the book, we learn that Brian is never able to tell his father about "the Secret." Why not? Hasn't he changed enough to be able to spill the beans?

Chew on This

Brian's transformation is a spiritual one: he becomes aware of himself as part of something larger than himself.

Brian's transformation is a throwback to an earlier state: he becomes more like primitive man in his inability to see beyond the present moment.

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