Hatchet Important Characters

Brian Robeson

Brian Robeson is a thirteen-year-old boy who, at the beginning of the book, is embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. This young man doesn't not know what lies before him, all he knows is his life and family have been torn apart by divorce. He is on an airplane trip to Canada, so he can spend the summer with his father, who does not know the Secret Brian has been carrying around for the past few months.

His mother is having an affair, which is the reason she asked for the divorce, but she doesn't know Brian saw her with her new boyfriend. All she knows is her son is distant and angry with her, which she thinks is because she asked for a divorce from his father. She doesn't know the real reason for his anger is the betrayal he feels she is guilty of, by not only having an affair, but also by not telling his father or him about it.

She gifts Brian a hatchet to use while visiting his father in the wilderness of Canada. It is her way of trying to become his friend once again, she hopes her son will like her again. This gift, unbeknownst to either one of them, becomes vital to Brian's survival.

Once in the air, with only the bush plane pilot as company, Brian contemplates the changes in his life, the fact he can only see his father sporadically and his mother is trying to adjust to being a single parent. The pilot can see Brian is emotionally upset and tries to be helpful by showing him the basics of flying an airplane. This little lesson also becomes vital to Brian's survival after the pilot suffers a deadly heart attack and Brian is left alone to land the plane.

He manages to survive the plane's crash landing in a lake. Brian at first thinks he is going to be rescued in a day or two, but as time wears on he realizes it may take considerably longer. The boy, whose every need was fulfilled by his parents, suddenly finds himself in a situation where he alone, is responsible for his life. He remembers the words of his English teacher, who taught him, "you are your most valuable asset." The teacher always told the class that they are the best thing they have. Brian takes these words to heart and uses them to keep him going.

He uses all his knowledge to build a fire, make his shelter as safe as possible, and to catch food. He uses the hatchet to protect him from wild animals, to help him start a fire, and to cut everything from fire wood to a hole in the airplane. This last use is the most important of all, because it allows him to retrieve the survival pack, which contains the radio transmitter that leads to his rescue.

All the while he is changing inside, he is going from a scared city boy to a young man who is in tune with nature. He notices the little things, such as the shape of birds, how his body lets him know when he is in danger, and the signs the weather is changing. These changes live on inside of him long after he leaves his wilderness home. He never tells his father of his mother's affair and he tries to repair his relationship with both of his parents. Brian, while going through a terrible ordeal, comes through it a changed and better person.

Mrs. Robeson

Brian's mother is having an affair, which has led to the dissolution of her marriage. She never tells her husband about the affair, but she also never knows Brian knows of it either. Brian blames her for the destruction of his family and his way of life. He loves his mother, but he is angry with her and is having difficulty dealing with these emotions. His mother, in an effort to make some peace with her son, gifts him a hatchet for his trip to visit his father. It is this gift which enable Brian to survive for fifty-four days in the wilderness. He never tells her, after he is rescued, that he knows about her affair.

Mr. Robeson

Brian's father is confused as to why his marriage ended and does not know Brian holds the answer he is seeking. He loves his son, which is why he is in Canada, because he is working to help support Brian. Brian in the end does not tell his father the Secret, he does however continue to build his relationship with him.

Mr. Perpich

Mr. Perpich is a former English teacher of Brian's. He taught his students to think positively and always stay on top of things. Brian takes this advice to heart, by trying to stay positive about his situation and to motivate himself to move and organize himself in his efforts to survive. Mr. Perpich also tells his students they are their most valuable asset and the best thing they have. Brian uses these words to help him through his darkest hours, such as the day the plane came near his shelter, only to turn back away from Brian. In a way, Mr. Perpich, helped to save Brian's life by giving him the words of encouragement he needed to persevere and live.

The Pilot

His name is either Jim or Jake and he is in his mid-forties, but what makes him an important character in the book is he is responsible for Brian being stranded in the wilderness. If he had survived his heart attack or never had it at all, then the story would have ended before it began. His death is the catalyst for Brian's change from a boy to a young man. The need to learn to survive on his own is directly linked to the crash of the plane, which would not have taken place if the pilot had survived the heart attack.

He is also responsible for Brian's survival of the crash and his being rescued. He gave Brian enough instruction in flying to enable him to survive the crash. He is also the person who told Brian about the survival pack, which allowed him to be rescued. If Brian did not know the survival pack was in the back of the plane, he would not have recovered it and turned on the transmitter. The pilot is involved in both the stranding and the rescue of Brian.

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