Full title  Hatchet

Author Gary Paulsen

Type of work Novel

Genre Coming-of-age novel; young adult novel; adventure novel; survival story

Language English

Time and place written United States, 1980s

Date of first publication 1987

Publisher Delacorte Books

Narrator Anonymous, speaking from a point after the events of the novel take place

Point of view This novel is narrated in the third person; however, the narrator conveys all of Brian Robeson's thoughts and feelings through the account of the events in the novel.

Tone Urgent, young

Tense Past

Setting (time) The author does not explicitly specify the time in which the novel takes place, but it is presumed to be the 1980s.

Setting (place) Hampton, New York; the Canadian north woods; New York City

Protagonist Brian Robeson

Major conflict Brian Robeson must find a way to survive alone in the woods after his plane crashes, to come to terms with his parents' divorce, and to affirm his manhood.

Rising action Brian's knowledge of "The Secret," Brian's successful landing of the plane, Brian's suicide attempt

Climax When Brian becomes the "new Brian" after his suicide attempt when the plane flies overhead without noticing him.

Falling action Brian's increased comfort with his life in the wilderness; Brian's loss of expectations that he will be rescued

Themes Man versus nature; the power of the positive thinking; initiation into manhood; the contrasts between urban and wilderness environments

Motifs Rationality versus emotion; past versus present; dreams versus reality

Symbols The hatchet; the plane; the rifle

Foreshadowing The pilot's pains early in the flight; Brian's flying lesson; Brian's fear of seeing the dead pilot's head