The rifle that Brian finds in the plane’s survival pack represents humankind’s overwhelming power and ability to harshly dominate the natural world. At first, the rifle appears to be a valuable asset, but Brian quickly becomes uncomfortable holding it and decides not to use it, even though it would make his hunting much easier. Brian’s discomfort stems from the fact that the rifle removes the need for all the knowledge and sense of harmony he has gained in the wilderness; it would allow him to survive without truly understanding or caring about his environment. In this way, the rifle functions as an opposing symbol to the wolf. Where the wolf represents peaceful connection to nature, the rifle represents disruption, illuminating the harmful separation that occurs when humans try to take from or overpower the natural world without bothering to understand it.
Rifle Quotes in Hatchet
It was a strange feeling, holding the rifle. It somehow removed him from everything around him. Without the rifle he had to fit in, to be part of it all, to understand it and use it—the woods, all of it. With the rifle, suddenly, he didn’t have to know; did not have to be afraid or understand.