Course Hero Logo

Hatchet | Study Guide

Gary Paulsen

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Hatchet Study Guide." Course Hero. 1 Sep. 2017. Web. 4 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, September 1). Hatchet Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 4, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Hatchet Study Guide." September 1, 2017. Accessed June 4, 2023.


Course Hero, "Hatchet Study Guide," September 1, 2017, accessed June 4, 2023,

Hatchet | Chapter 17 | Summary



Brian rebuilds his shelter after retrieving its scattered pieces. He gathers wood for a fire and softer branches for a bed. At the end of the day, he's well on his way to recovery. He also knows what he has seen sticking out of the lake: part of the plane that crashed. He remembers that the plane had a "survival pack" on board and reasons that if he could get it, he'd have a lot more supplies.

The next day Brian's ribs don't hurt as much. He's eager to get to the plane, but he remembers his lessons about how food comes first and forces himself to gather something to eat. He makes a spear, then kills and eats three fish. He's still hungry, but the fish him enough energy to start working on getting to the plane. He decides that he needs a raft and some sort of paddle. It takes him most of the day to build the raft. When he's done, he realizes he will need to tie the raft to the plane and fashions his windbreaker into a makeshift rope.

Brian tests the raft, then decides to wait and try to reach the plane the next day. That night he feels a chill in the air that tells him fall is coming. The next morning it is so cool that he sees his breath. He goes to the lake and slowly maneuvers the raft to the plane. When he gets there, all the openings to the plane are underwater. Brian realizes that he'll have to dive to reach them. He worries that once he is in the plane he will be trapped, and the thought of encountering the pilot's body unnerves him. He takes a break to rest, then gets off the raft and pulls himself around the plane. He can't see any way in.


Brian must always remember and act by the rules governing his survival in the wilderness. He can never act impulsively as a typical teenager might. Before he can eat again he must make a spear, for example. This sort of detail adds to the novel's realism and emphasizes the need for efficiency in the wilderness, where Brian has to create the tools he needs before he can accomplish a task.

Either the moose attack or the tornado could have killed Brian, but they do not damage his mind or spirit. He has had moments of real despair in the wilderness, and these blows could easily trigger another. After the tornado, Brian notes, "I am back to nothing ... back to where I was when I crashed. Hurt, in the dark, just the same." But he has grown since the time of his despair following the plane sighting. This time he immediately sets about rebuilding what he has lost. And he has a new task: he's ready to try to get to the plane to retrieve the "survival pack." His approach is calm and constructive as he plans for the future. Emotionally, Brian has never been tougher.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Hatchet? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!