After the porcupine stings Brian and he gives in to self-pity once more, he reaches a turning point in the book. He realizes the futile nature of self-pity and becomes determined to distance himself from demonstrating that weakness again. This transformation proves that Brian not only grows more physically proficient at survival in a harsh wilderness, but also becomes more mature in his outlook on life in general.

Brian's efforts to start a fire often result in failure, but while he becomes discouraged at times, Brian demonstrates his growing mental capabilities when he perseveres despite these difficulties. The reader senses that the events of this part of the book provide the foundation for Brian's dynamic character.

When Brian finally succeeds at producing a hearty flame in Chapter 9, he seeks to share his satisfaction with someone. While Brian has grown accustomed to his solitary state, his strong desire for companionship speaks to a quality in human nature. That is, human beings seek company both in times of triumph and in times of despair. Because Brian has no human companions, he begins to identify with and become closer to the animal and wilderness life around him, this trend epitomized by his regard of the fire as his friend.