Hatchet

by

Gary Paulsen

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Hatchet: Chapter 2  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Brian remains frozen for a minute, reliving what he saw and wishing desperately for the pilot to wake up. He decides that he has to help the pilot, but finds that he cannot detect any heartbeat or breathing. Panicked, Brian, feels the nose of the plane begin to drop and realizes that he will have to figure out how to fly the plane himself.
Brian’s ability to move past his panic and at least try to help the pilot shows his hidden capacity for growing through adversity, even though his ability to take action is still limited.
Themes
Adversity and Growth Theme Icon
Independence vs. Connection Theme Icon
Despite his terror, Brian experiments with the plane’s controls and manages to get it flying level again. He looks out the windows, hoping for a place to try to land, but sees nothing but trees and lakes. He is not sure which direction the plane is heading and is unable to read the navigational devices. Looking over the dashboard, Brian remembers the radio and decides to call for help.
Again, Brian overcomes his fear long enough to take some control of his situation. His ability to right the plane exemplifies the role of independence in this story: Brian does not ultimately avoid the crash, but the act of taking control himself nonetheless gives him the strength to survive this phase of his ordeal and take next steps.
Themes
Independence vs. Connection Theme Icon
Brian takes the headset from the pilot, even though he is horrified to touch his body, and uses the microphone to call for help into the radio. At first, no one answers, and Brian gives in to panic, screaming and crying into the microphone. He hears his own voice returning and suddenly remembers that the microphone needs to be off in order to pick up an answering signal. Brian turns off the microphone and hears someone faintly answering him, asking for a location and flight number.
Brian’s quick return to blind panic again demonstrates how easily he succumbs to desperation in the face of challenge. However, it is the sound of his own voice that returns him to his senses and lets him ask for help, which foreshadows the way that he will learn to rely on himself in the wilderness.
Themes
Adversity and Growth Theme Icon
Independence vs. Connection Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Brian attempts to answer and explain his situation, but the responses are increasingly broken up and are soon gone altogether. Brian can only hear static through the radio. Brian calls for help again and explains who he is, but no one answers. He begins to despair, wondering how someone on the radio could help him even if they did answer. An hour passes, and Brian continues to call for help. Eventually, Brian realizes that the plane will run out of fuel if he does not land soon. He also remembers the pilot knocking into the controls and understands that the plane is no longer on its original course.
It seems for a moment that communicating through the radio will save Brian, but then the loss of this verbal connection leaves him helpless, providing an example of how crucial language can be to survival. Brian’s realization that the plane is off course also highlights the limits of his ability to control the situation. His independent response gave him strength and calm, but it did not actually fix the problem at hand.
Themes
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The Power of Language Theme Icon
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Frightened and confused, Brian decides to keep the plane flying until it runs out of fuel. Every ten minutes, he calls for help, and in between calls he attempts to plan the best way to bring the plane down when it runs out of fuel. Because landing in the water seems less dangerous than landing in the trees, Brian decides to aim for a lake when the time comes and try to slow the plane down as it hits the water. Even as he makes this plan, he feels that it will be impossible to carry out. Suddenly, the plane’s engine stops, and Brian has no choice but to aim the plane downward. Panicked, he throws up.
Even though he is terrified, Brian makes and carries out a plan for managing his situation, showing that he is already growing into the ability to respond to adversity with maturity. However, the plane’s sudden descent also underscores the essential unpredictability of life and hints at the limits of trying to control the complexities of the world.
Themes
Adversity and Growth Theme Icon
Independence vs. Connection Theme Icon