Relieved and joyful to have the fire, Brian spends the rest of the day gathering wood and feeding the flames. Once the sun begins setting, he discovers that the mosquitos no longer swarm him near the fire. Soon thereafter, he realizes that he is also able to make a smoke signal using fire. Continuing to build his stock of wood, Brian feels that he “might be getting a handle on things” at last.
The many benefits of the fire bring Brian a sense of control that he has previously lacked. For the time being, he begins to perceive himself as independent. However, he continues to rely on the natural world even as he celebrates this feeling of “getting a handle on things,” using wood from the forest to keep his fire going.
Brian wakes up in the night to see that his fire has burned down. He revives it and resolves to be more careful to keep it going. Then, he hears a dragging sound outside his shelter, but nothing approaches him. In the morning, Brian finds a set of odd marks in the sand that seem to have been left by an animal coming out of the water, with a pile of sand at the end of the trail. He tells himself to think like an animal and understand why an animal would have come out of the water, knowing that it must have had a good reason. Digging under the pile of sand, Brian discovers a stash of eggs and realizes that the animal must have been a turtle laying her eggs.
Seeing the eggs, Brian becomes hungrier than ever before and digs them all up, thinking that he had “never felt so rich somehow.” However, he realizes that he has no way to cook the eggs and will need to eat them raw. Although he is disgusted at the idea, Brian tells himself that he has no other choice.
Here, Brian uses the word “rich” to define his circumstances as increasingly positive, seeing the eggs as a form of genuine wealth. He also moves quickly past his aversion to eating the eggs, showing an increased maturity and commitment to avoiding self-pity.
Brian cracks open one of the turtle eggs and eats it raw. Although the taste disgusts him, he is still hungry and eats several more, growing to like them. He forces himself to save the rest of the eggs for later, resolving to eat one a day and remembering that the rescuers might come before he finishes them all. Brian decides to continue thinking of the rescuers because they allow him to keep hoping.
Brian’s determination to continue thinking of the rescuers shows that, although he is no longer giving into despair, he has not yet accepted the reality that he may need to learn to thrive in the wilderness. At the same time, he quickly learns to enjoy the eggs, showing an appreciation for the value of nature that will be essential once he does accept that the rescuers will not come.