Hatchet Quotes

"No, not secrets so much as just the Secret. What he knew and had not told anybody, what he knew about his mother that had caused the divorce, what he knew, what he knew--- the Secret." (Brian Robeson, Chapter 1, p.3)

Brian is thinking about how much his life has changed, because his mother had an affair. He saw her alone with another man in the man's station wagon in a mall parking lot. His mother did not see him, his father did not know about the other man, and his friend, Terry, did not know Brian's secret either. He is carrying this Secret around with him, as if it is a piece of unwanted luggage. He doesn't know what to do with it or how to get rid of it. All he knows, is this is the cause of his family being torn apart and his world disintegrating in front of him.

"Inside there was a hatchet, the kind with a steel handle and a rubber handgrip." (Narrator, Chapter 1, p. 8)

In an effort to reach out to her son, Brian's mother bought him a gift to take with him on his visit to his father. She thought that since his dad was working in the oil fields of Canada, which were located in a forested area, he might find a hatchet useful and fun to use. Little did she know this gift would be the only thing standing between her son living and dying, after he is marooned in the wilderness. The hatchet became a symbol of life to Brian, which is why he did all he could to keep it with him and in good working order.

"It made sense. Glide down, then slow the plane and hit." (Brian Robeson, Chapter 2, p. 23)

The pilot of the bush plane, which Brian is a passenger in, has had a heart attack and died. Brian is out of radio range and has to land the plane himself. He has had only a short lesson on how to fly the plane, so he must come up with a plan of to how to land. He has decided to let the plane run out of fuel and try to glide it down on a shoreline next to a lake. It is a good plan, but unfortunately instead of landing on the shoreline, Brian lands in the lake. He does manage to free himself from the plane and swim to shore. There he begins his long adventure of living on his own in the wilderness.

"I have a friend, he thought---I have a friend now. A hungry friend, but a good one. I have a friend named fire." (Brian Robeson, Chapter 9, pp. 92-93)

Brian has been trying to build a fire with little success. He tried using twigs, grass, and even a torn up twenty-dollar bill, but nothing would work. It is then he notices some beech trees and the paper like bark which is peeling off of them. He uses the bark to make a fire. He is thrilled with the fire, calling it his friend, because he can use the fire for light, heat, protection from insects and animals, and to cook with. This is the moment he truly realizes he has a chance to survive. More importantly, he did it on his own without the advice of anyone else, he feels a sense of confidence wash over him.

"They would not return. He would never leave now, never get out of here." (Brian Robeson, Chapter 12, p. 117)

Brian hears a plane as he is in the woods and he returns as fast as he can to light his signal fire. The plane does not see his fire and flies away from the lake and Brian. Brian is left feeling more alone than ever before. He has, until that incident, felt he would one day be rescued, now he is sure he will be left to live out the rest of his life in the wilderness. His family and friends will never know what became of him or how he lived and died. He feels as if all his hope has been stolen from him, he is nothing.

"Forty-two days, he thought, since he had died and been born as the new Brian." (Brian Robeson, Chapter 13, p. 122)

After the plane left, Brian became so depressed he tried to end his life by cutting himself. He did not succeed in cutting himself, which was a very good thing indeed. He instead, the next morning, decided he was the new Brian, the Brian who would never again give in to death, who would never be like he was before the plane came, who would learn from his mistakes. He learned how to make a bow and arrows, how to use it to hunt, and how to be more self-reliant than before. He was a new person and he was glad of it.

"Damn. You're him, aren't you? You're that kid. They quit looking, a month, no, almost two months ago. You're him, aren't you? You're that kid...." (Bush plane pilot, Chapter 19, p. 191)

Brian accidently left the radio transmitter on, it was part of the supplies in the survival pack he had retrieved from the crashed plane. A bush pilot heard the signal and decided to investigate where it was coming from. The man was surprised to find Brian and was totally stunned to realize who he had stumbled upon. This was the person who returned Brian to his family and friends.

"Brian tried several times to tell his father, came really close once to doing it, but in the end never said a word about the man or what he knew, the Secret." (Narrator, Epilogue, p. 195)

Brian, in the end, just could not bring himself to reveal the truth to his father. He could not hurt his father with the knowledge Brian's mother had fallen for another man. He felt it would be best not to say anything at all about the Secret. He, instead, continued to carry the knowledge of his mother's indiscretion around with him forever.

Related Links:

Hatchet Summary
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Hatchet Chapters 17 - Epilogue Summary
Hatchet Chapters 1 - 4 Summary
Hatchet Chapters 5 - 7 Summary
Hatchet Important Characters
Literature Summaries
Gary Paulsen Facts

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