Hatchet Chapters 1 - 4 Summary

Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to the tundra line of Canada to visit his father. The mode of transportation is a Cessna 406 bush plane; it is also the first plane Brian has ever flown in. He is sitting in the copilot's seat and the pilot, a man named either Jake or Jim, is taking him to his father. The plane is also transporting some drilling equipment and has on board a special survival pack, in case of an emergency.

Brian does not really care too much about the pilot or the cargo, he is dealing with the ramifications of his parents recent divorce and the secret he is keeping. He knows why his mother asked for the divorce, but he cannot confide in her or his father the secret he is keeping. Instead he is angry-angry with his mother, angry with the lawyers, angry with the judge for the way his life has suddenly been turned upside down.

His mother on the way to the airport has surprised Brian with the gift of a hatchet. She makes him put it on his belt and model it for her. He is embarrassed by the gift, but since it seems to mean so much to his mother, he acts as if he is excited by the present.

The bush plane pilot takes pity on Brian and shows him some rudimentary flying techniques. The pilot is then silent until a little later, when he suddenly has a heart attack and is left unconscious or dead, Brian cannot tell which. All he knows is he is alone in a plane above a forest and has no one to help him.

Brian is stunned by the turn of events and he is paralyzed by fear. He keeps on hoping the pilot is only asleep and not dead, but he knows the man is gone. He realizes he must keep the plane flying, so through trial and error he manages to keep the plane flying level.

He also remembers the radio the pilot had tried to use to summon help when he first felt ill. The radio headset and the microphone switch are still on the pilot's body, by summoning up all his courage, Brian manages to remove both. He tries to use them to call for help, but he forgets to turn off the microphone switch, which would allow him to receive messages. As soon as he remembers, he hears a voice trying to get through to him and the person on the other end wants him to give his location, but Brian has no idea where he is. He tries to tell the person this and the fact that he has no idea of how to fly the plane, but soon he is out of radio range. The person can no longer receive Brian's messages, so he knows he is totally on his own.

He devises a plan to allow the plane to run out of fuel, then put the nose down and aim for the nearest lake. He is going to try to land the plane on the edge of a lake, because that would be the clearest place for him to land.

He is still trying to radio for help, but the plane runs out of gas and Brian is forced to put the nose down in order to try to land. He is so frightened he throws up as he is putting the nose down.

The plane is heading down towards the earth and Brian cannot see a lake to land near. He is desperately looking for water, finally he spots a small lake to the right of where the plane is headed. He manages to steer the plane towards the lake, but the maneuver slows the plane and Brian has to compensate by pushing the wheel in to increase air speed.

The plane crashes into some trees, tearing off part of the wings, the plane keeps on sliding through the trees until it hits the water of the lake. It feels to Brian as if the plane has hit concrete, he is screaming and terrified as the plane plunges into the lake. He manages to free himself from the seatbelt, so he can escape through the broken window in the front of the plane.

He swims to the surface of the lake, vomiting out the water that is in his lungs. From the lake he swims to the shore line and passes out. While he is out, Brian has a memory of the day he found out about the Secret. He and his friend Terry are riding their bikes past the mall, there he sees his mother sitting in a strange station wagon talking to a strange man. She does not see Brian, but now he knows the reason for the divorce and why his life has been shattered.

Brian wakes up to find he is in pain, his whole body hurts, his legs feel as if they are on fire and his forehead is swollen. He knows none of his bones are broken, but the pain in his head is almost unbearable. He falls asleep again and does not awaken until the sun is almost up. He manages to sit up against a tree, but he is attacked by mosquitoes and other insects. His face and body are swollen from the many stings he has endured and he cannot see very well, because his eyes are almost swollen shut.

He is happy, though, to be alive and is trying to orient himself to the forest. He is tired and in pain, which makes him sleep a lot.

Brian has endured the pain of his parents' divorce. He is keeping the secret of his mother's affair to himself. He must fend for himself, after his plane has crashed into a forest. He shows resiliency and maturity beyond his years in landing the plane and saving himself.

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