Hatchet Chapters 17 - Epilogue Summary

Brian had survived the tornado, but now, the next morning, it was time to start putting his life back together. This meant he needed to start a fire, repair his shelter wall, make some weapons, and find food; this was all easier said than done, because of his injured ribs.

He started first with building the fire, which was essential to all of his other tasks. The fire warmed him, kept out the mosquitos and other predators, allowed him to cook food, and gave him light at night. He didn't have as hard a time this time making the fire and had one burning within an hour. His need for dry wood to keep it burning was a much harder task, because the storm had soaked almost all the wood he had accumulated for the fire. He finally found an evergreen tree, which had some dry dead branches and cut them for his fire.

He found pieces of the shelter wall and put it back in place. Brian felt he was lucky to have survived the storm and lucky to not have been injured. Either one of these out comes would have meant he was dead, because if he had been injured to the point where he could not hunt, then he would have starved to death.

As he fell asleep that night, he saw in his mind the tail of the plane sticking up out of the water. He also remembered the pilot telling him the survival pack was stored in the tail of the plane. If he could reach the survival pack, he felt he had a chance at finding real food, fishing gear, and maybe even a sleeping bag, which to him would make him a rich man.

Even though he wanted to start first thing the next morning for the plane, he knew he needed to eat first. He realized keeping his strength up was key to his making it to the plane. He speared and cooked some fish to eat for his breakfast. Then he tried to fashion a raft out of some logs, but it was not easy, because he did not have anything to tie the logs together. After a while he realized he needed logs with branches on them, so he could weave them together, like he did for the wall on his shelter. Once the raft was built, he tore his windbreaker into strips to make a kind of rope, so he could tie the raft to the plane.

The next morning, he pulled the raft to the plane, it was slow going and took him almost two hours to reach the plane. Once there he tried to find a place to anchor the raft and to enter the plane. He looked into the water three times and could not find a place to enter the plane.

In anger Brian hit his fist against the skin of the airplane and was surprised to find he had bent the skin. He punched it again and again, then he used his hatchet to hack a hole in the side of the plane. As he was using his hatchet, he lost his grip on it and it fell to the bottom of the lake.

Brian did not succumb to self-pity, instead he dove several times towards the bottom of the lake until he retrieved the hatchet. He made his way into the plane and by diving into the water in the plane was able to find the survival pack. He pulled at it and managed to loosen it from the plane, but not before he saw the remains of the pilot's head. The sight of the fish eaten head made him sick, but he refused to give up and he swam towards the hole in the side of the plane. He slowly made his way back to shore towing the survival pack on the raft. He was so exhausted by the time he reached shore, that he had to crawl back to his shelter. He was cheered by the thought that he had done it. He retrieved the survival pack.

The survival pack held treasures beyond compare for Brian, he had a sleeping bag, food, a gun, eating utensils, and a radio transmitter. Brian didn't know what to do at first with the gun he found in the pack, but he put it together and then put it aside. He decided to make himself a feast of the food packets he found, but as he was about to sit down to eat, he heard a plane.

A bush plane landed on the lake and a man exited it to find Brian staring at him. The man was beside himself, after he realized Brian was the kid who had been lost in the wilderness. He tells Brian the searchers gave up looking for him about two months ago.

Brian had been in the wilderness for fifty-four days and had lost seventeen percent of his body weight; he never gained all the weight back. His view of life was changed forever, he never took food for granted again, he was extremely observant of what was going on around him, and he was thoughtful of what he said. His parents did not get back together and he never told his father the Secret.

After surviving the tornado, Brian began the slow process of rebuilding his life in the wilderness. He also manages to retrieve the survival pack from the plane. This allows him to be rescued, because the pack contained a transmitter which he accidently leaves on. He is rescued and returned home, but he is never again the same boy he was, before he was lost in the wilderness.

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