Hatchet Chapters 8 - 12 Summary

Brian wakes up in the middle of the night to a growling sound in his shelter. He cannot see anything in the total darkness, but he thinks he sees a shape moving around. To make the intruder go away Brian throws his hatchet at it. Sparks fly from the rock wall of his shelter, which frightens the animal and Brian's leg erupts in pain.

The animal is a porcupine and it has slapped its quills into his leg, causing intense pain. He is able to remove all the quills, but his leg is in agony and Brian breaks down and cries. His self-pity does not resolve any of his problems and he realizes the key to survival is not to feel sorry for yourself.

As he tries to go back to sleep, he has a dream in which his father is trying to tell him something important, but Brian cannot understand him. He also dreams his friend Terry is using charcoal to light a fire. As the fire grows larger Terry looks at Brian and points to the flame. Brian wakes up not understanding the meaning of the dream.

He does, however, realize the hatchet is more important to him as a tool, than as a weapon. More importantly he remembers the sparks, which flew from the stone wall, as the hatchet hit it.

He now knows the meaning of the dream, there is a hard rock imbedded into the rock wall, which when hit with the hatchet causes sparks. He can use the rock and the hatchet to build a fire. He can have fire.

Brian begins to try to make a fire in his shelter. He tries to light grass, then twigs, then grass and twigs, but nothing will burn beyond a spark. He notices the birch trees have paper-like bark peeling off of them and he decides to try to use it. After some false starts, he realizes he needs to use its in thin strips and makes a nest using the bark and the stone, which he strikes to make the sparks. At last, after blowing on the sparks, he is successful in making a small fire. He considers the fire his friend, because it will keep him warm and keep animals from entering his shelter.

He feels he cannot leave the fire, for fear of it going out. He sits feeding the fire all day, until he notices he will need wood to feed it through the night. He finds some downed trees and cuts dead limbs from them. He carries them back to his shelter, which is not an easy task, because his leg is still sore from the porcupine quills.

He notices the mosquitoes do not bother him while he near the fire, this cheers him enormously. He also realizes he can use the fire to make a signal for the searchers, so they can find him easier.

During the night he hears an animal pass by the shelter on its way to the shore. The next day he finds the tracks and follows them to a pile of sand. At first he cannot figure out what the pile of sand is for, but he remembers this is how turtles bury their eggs. He digs down in the sand and finds seventeen eggs.

His only thought is food. He removes the eggs and tries to crack them open, but realizes he has nothing to cook them on. Brian then remembers his Uncle Carter, who drinks a raw egg in his morning milk. Brian, while not enjoying the idea, decides he can swallow the eggs raw. He swallows the inside of one egg and does not throw up. He decides to keep going and ends up swallowing about six of them and keeps the rest for later. He begins to notice he is no longer thinking of rescue, but instead focusing on survival. He tells himself he has to have hope of being rescued.

As Brian moves the remainder of the eggs to his shelter, he thinks of the things he has to do. He needs to keep enough wood on hand to keep the fire going through the night, he needs to keep his shelter clean, and he needs to find food, all of these tasks keep him from feeling the loneliness and depression of not being rescued.

He also notices his whole being has changed, he sees and hears things in a way he never did before and his body is leaner and has a tanned leather look. He is aware of his surroundings and is ready for any action he might need to take to protect himself.

He finds a flat area on top of his shelter to build a signal fire. He also realizes he can try to catch the fish in the lake and eat them. He tries to use a spear to catch the fish, but it doesn't work. He decides he needs to make a bow and arrow to catch the fish. As he is looking for the right kind of tree limb to use for his bow, Brian hears a whining noise, which he at first does not notice is a plane.

He sprints to his shelter to light his signal fire. He manages to build a fire, but by now the plane has turned away from Brian and is flying in the opposite direction. He is crushed by the lost opportunity; he feels completely alone and hopeless. Brian feels as if he will never be rescued and his family is forever lost to him.

Brian in these chapters learns how to make fire, find food that will not make him sick, and build a signal fire. He is full of hope, until the day he hears a plane and watches it fly away from him and his signal fire. He now feels totally alone; he feels as if he will never be rescued.

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