Hatchet Chapters 5 - 7 Summary

Brian has woken up from his nap with a thirst he had never experienced before. He feels as if he will die if he does not drink large amounts of water immediately. The lake sits tantalizingly before him, but he doesn't know if it is safe to drink the water. He reasons that he swallowed it as he swam to shore and he didn't become ill, so he can drink it now. He starts by telling himself he will only drink a little of the water, but by the time he is done drinking, he has drunk enough to make him sick.

He is able, after throwing up the water, to take stock of his situation for the first time. He realizes he has no idea where he is, but he also knows search parties will be looking for him. Brian feels he will be found within a few days, which is good, because he is hungry and has no means of obtaining food.

He thinks about his English teacher, Mr. Perpich, who was always telling the students to "stay positive and stay on top of things". He tries to stay positive about his situation and act, by taking stock of what he has with him, it isn't much, some money, his clothes, and his hatchet. The hatchet is still attached to his belt, a little rusty, but still there ready to be of use to him.

He realizes the pilot inadvertently threw the plane off course when he was in the throes of the heart attack. He is also thinking about how to fend off the wild animals, which live in the forest. He decides he needs to build a shelter for himself.

Brian remembers a time he and his friend, Terry, had gone into a part of the city near a park, which had been left to grow like a forest. The two boys talked about how they would survive if they were ever stranded alone. The one thing they agreed upon was it would be necessary to build a lean-to. Brian decides to implement this plan, but he is so weak with hunger it is almost impossible for him to walk, let alone chop wood and build a shelter. He spies a stone ridge, which has on its north side a scooped out area with a ledge above it, inside the area is tall enough for him to almost stand completely up and the floor is sandy. He decides this would be a better shelter than a lean-to because it is water proof.

After resting a bit, because he is weak from hunger and the effects of the crash, Brian determines he needs to find food. He remembers hearing somewhere, that forests contain bushes with berries on them. He doesn't want to go into the woods too far, for fear of becoming lost, so he looks around him and spots an area that contains bushes. He sees birds flying in amongst the bushes as they eat the berries on them. Using the birds as guides he finds the bushes and gorges himself on the berries they carry. He doesn't care that the berries are tart and have pits, he eats them all. Once he is done eating he picks about four pounds of the berries to keep in his shelter.

He returns to the shelter, which he now thinks of as his home, and decides to enclose the front of it by weaving dead branches together to form a wall. He is experiencing some stomach discomfort from eating all the berries, but he eventually finishes his wall and is satisfied by what he has accomplished. He then lays down and eventually falls asleep.

Brian awakes in the middle of the night crying for his mother. He is in agony from the berries he has consumed earlier in the day. He has diarrhea and vomiting, which lasts for over an hour and after it subsides he tries to fall asleep.

He instead lies in his shelter remembering watching his mother kiss the other man. He remembers the shame of it and how his father still doesn't know about the Secret.

The next day he walks to the lake to clean himself up and sees his reflection in the water. He is surprised and filled with self-pity at the sight of his bitten, bloody, and swollen face. He cries about it and later decides he needs to find food for his rumbling stomach.

He eats some of the gut berries, as he now calls them, and then goes in search of other food. He finds some raspberries and is filled with joy. While eating them he hears a noise and turns to see a bear standing looking at him. Brian is terrified and cannot move, which is a good thing, because the bear takes a look at him, decides he is not a threat, and goes back to eating the raspberries.

Finally, Brian starts to run away from the bear, only to stop, because he realizes if the bear wanted to hurt him, he would have done so right away. He returns to the raspberries and picks some to bring back to his shelter. He returns to the shelter just as it begins to rain and with his hatchet beside him for protection, Brian falls asleep.

Brian has learned to cope with the panic of not knowing where he is and when he will be rescued. He also, through trial and error, discovers how to eat berries in a way that will not make him sick. He has an encounter with a bear, which causes him to think of his hatchet as a weapon and not a tool. Brian is also trying to come to terms with his mother's affair and the effects it has had on his life and family.

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