Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 6, 2024
February 28, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Gary Paulsen was an author of novels for young adults whose best-known work, Hatchet (1986), is typical in that most of his stories deal with coming-of-age themes and the wilderness. The success of Hatchet led to four additional novels in the Brain’s Saga series: The River (1991), Brian’s Winter (1996), Brain’s Return (1999), and Brian’s Hunt (2003).
Paulsen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1939. His father was an overseas military officer and frequently absent during Paulsen’s upbringing, and his mother was an alcoholic. Not surprisingly, his parents’ marriage was not a happy one. At age fourteen, Paulsen ran away from home. For a time, he traveled with a carnival, which invested him with a sense of adventure he maintained for his whole life. Paulsen was in the army from 1958 to 1962. He was a great lover of the outdoors and outdoor activities. On multiple occasions completed the Iditarod, the annual 1,180-mile Alaskan dog sled race.
Paulsen’s early difficulties with his family, as well as his love for and struggles with nature, become central themes in Hatchet and in most of his works.
Once he realized he wanted to take his career as a writer seriously, Paulsen got a job as a magazine editor to gain some experience in the publishing world. In 1966 Paulsen published The Special War, his first novel. Paulsen wrote more than 100 books, 200 magazine articles and short stories, and several plays, primarily for young adults.
Paulsen died in Tularosa, New Mexico, at the age of 82 in 2021.
Hatchet was published in 1986, well into Paulsen’s career and after he enjoyed popular and critical success. In addition to personal factors influencing Paulsen’s work, the literary culture of his time also shaped the content and mood of his work. Around the same time that Paulsen was emerging into the literary world, three books were published that dealt with their authors’ personal relationships with the natural world. Each book sought to combine autobiography and fiction to search for meaning and a rethought system of values out in the natural world. Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America (1967), Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974), and Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It (1976) all revolved around similar themes.
Paulsen found success in adapting many of these themes related to having a personal relationship to the natural world to a young adult audience and adding elements from his own life as well. These themes were not exclusive to the literary world. In the 1970s a strong cultural force called people back to the land, and Paulsen’s books are partially a product of this outlook.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Hatchet!