Sam begins the novel with one desire - to be alone in the woods. By the end of the book, Sam's attitude changes and he no longer wants to be alone.
The book develops the theme of independence versus the need for relationships...
Though Sam quickly becomes adept at taking care of his basic survival needs in the woods and is often happy with his life there, after months of living with just animals for friends, Sam craves human companionship.
In his first few months on the mountain, Sam feels content with the friendship of the animals. As his time wears on, Sam is surprised to find that he seeks out the human voices he hears on the mountain instead of running away back to his privacy.
After befriending Bando and hosting his father for the Christmas holiday, Sam accepts the friendship of the reporter, Matt, a boy near his own age. At this point, Sam realizes that he can be happy with friends and friendship and does not need to be alone to be happy.
This is a change in Sam, as he began his adventure wanting only to be alone.
Having grown up in a family of eleven in New York City, he values his privacy and independence.
As time passes, Sam is frequently surprised to find himself embracing the company of people.
Sam goes from being a person dedicated to isolation to one prepared to embrace the company of others.