This story about a young boy stranded in the Canadian wilderness will never lose it’s affect on me. Being a child of divorce I can totally empathize with Brian’s struggles to cope. And I appreciate Gary Paulsen’s comparing that struggle with actual survival. But this book is in no way a sermon on how to deal with divorce. It’s about learning to co-exist, and to overcome any obstacles. The descriptions of how Brian went about ensuring his survival, only with the use of his hatchet (hence the title) were awe inspiring when a pre-teen and the book still retains a sentimental hold over my heart as an adult. the encounters with wildlife range from comical to downright horrifying. Hatchet made me appreciate the things I had and also allowed me to realize that I shouldn’t seek too hard the things I desired to have but didn’t. Overall this is a great book to give your 10-13 year old, a book about respect for nature, appreciation for life, and above all understanding that you can make it through the toughtest of situations as long as you have the right tools and are willing to learn how to use them.
Q 1 – Brian uses his skills of observation to take stock of his surroundings. Record what Brian finds as he checks out his possessions. Predict how he might use each possession to help him survive.
Q2 – How did you react to Brian’s thoughts and actions? Do you think that he is sensible or unreasonable? Explain your answer.
Q3 – Why is Brian visiting his father in Canada? How does Brian feel about his mother?
Q4 – What is Brian’s plan for landing the plane? What conclusions can you draw about Brian from the actions he takes before the crash?
Q5 – What lesson does Brian recall from Mr. Perpich, his English teacher? How does that lesson help Brian as he sits beside the lake?
Q6 – Sometimes Brian’s thoughts go back to an earlier time, when he was with his mother. What effect do these “breaks” have on the story?
Q7 – Are Brian’s reactions to the pilot’s death and the crash realistic? Does Brian seem like a real thirteen-year-old? Explain your answer.
Q8 – How did you react to what happens to Brian in chapters 6–12? What went through your mind at the end of chapter 12?
Q9 – Where does Brian find shelter? Why does he consider the find lucky?
Q10 – What does Brian see among the raspberry bushes? What does he learn from this experience?
Q11 – What wild visitor helps Brian figure out how to build a fire? How? What does the fire mean to Brian?
Q12 – What do you learn about Brian from his dreams and memories that you have not learned from other parts of the story?
Q13 – What do you think Brian means when he tells himself that self-pity doesn’t work?
Q14 – Were you surprised by the events described in the Epilogue? Did you wish events had turned out differently? Explain.
Q15 – What tools does Brian make and for what does he use them? How does this accomplishment make Brian feel about himself and his situation?
Q16 – In what two ways does Brian measure time? Which way has the most meaning for him and why?
Q17 – What causes Brian to have to rebuild his shelter twice? Why does Brian spend so much time on rebuilding?
Q18 – The author spends more than two chapters describing Brian’s trip out to the plane and back. What effect does this description have on the reader?
Q19 – Why might Brian have mixed feelings about using some of the items in the survival pack?
Q20 – What questions would you like to ask Brian about his experience? Do you find his experience believable? How do you think you would have dealt with a similar situation?