Hatchet

by

Gary Paulsen

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Hatchet: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Encouraged by both the fire and the turtle eggs, Brian discovers that keeping busy prevents him from becoming depressed about the slow arrival of the searchers. Accordingly, he finds as many tasks for himself as possible, starting with burying the eggs in the sand, tidying up his camp, and maintaining the fire.
Brian’s decision to keep busy by taking care of all the details of his camp exemplifies the way that a sense of independence becomes essential to his survival. He avoids depression by fending for himself, a strategy that keeps his basic needs for food and shelter met.
Themes
Independence vs. Connection Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Brian spends much of the day gathering firewood. While stopping to drink at the lake, he sees his reflection and realizes how much his body has changed: he is now thin and tan, and his head is no longer swollen. Noticing these changes leads Brian to take note of how his mind has changed as well. He finds that he is more attuned to the sights and sounds around him and thinks that he is now able to “truly see” things, rather than just notice “as he used to notice things in the city.” The details of the natural world around Brian are suddenly much clearer to him.
This moment stands in contrast to Brian’s earlier perception of his reflection as ugly and weak. He sees clearly for the first time that his challenges have changed him for the better, demonstrating that his new attitude allows the adversity he faces to facilitate real growth. Additionally, this shift comes with a greater sensitivity to nature, showing how Brian’s seeming independence is actually linked to a deepening understanding of how he connects to everything around him.
Themes
Adversity and Growth Theme Icon
Independence vs. Connection Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Continuing to repeat the phase “things to do,” Brian gathers more wood and builds a signal fire on top of the stone ridge, planning to light it if he ever hears a plane engine nearby. Sitting on top of the ridge, Brian looks down at the lake and realizes how “incredibly beautiful” and “full of life” the landscape is. He watches a kingfisher catch a fish and suddenly realizes that he might be able to catch fish as well.
Brian again uses language as a support throughout this chapter, relying on the idea of “things to do” to stay focused and productive even in an outwardly chaotic situation. Brian’s perception of nature begins to sharpen as well, and his ability to notice more details about it is immediately rewarded with the possibility of fish to eat.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Brian runs down to the edge of the lake and sees that there are countless small fish swimming in it, as well as shellfish. The fish come so close to Brian that he thinks he might be able to hit one if he had a spear, so he decides to try and make spear out of sharpened wood. Brian thinks through his evening’s plan to bank the fire, collect more raspberries, and sharpen wood for a spear, again feeling happy to have “things to do.”
Aided by his use of his “things to do” mantra, Brian embraces his circumstances fully, no longer dwelling on all the things he could be upset about. This happy moment underscores the way that a self-reliant mindset can turn adversity into opportunity.
Themes
Adversity and Growth Theme Icon
Independence vs. Connection Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
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