Brian changes dramatically over the course of Hatchet. These changes are mostly tied to his emotional growth. When the story begins, Brian is a typical teenage boy. He is full of self-doubt and resentment, mostly due to the difficult divorce his parents are going through. After some time stranded in the wilderness, Brian is forced to confront his very nature in order to survive. While he had previously been taking a passive role in the events of his life, he quickly learns that he has to depend on his own determination and faculties.
Brian realizes that with nobody to rely on but himself, he needs to begin taking the initiative. This lesson is driven home after the search plane fails to find him. He learns that hopelessness and panic are useless, even dangerous, emotions.
Brian learns to carefully observe his environment and identify dangers. He recognizes patterns and takes stock of all the ways that something can be helpful or hurtful. He finds that he must plan for the future and begins building shelter and storing food. He learns to trust in his reason and not give in to fears and gut-reactions. He also through hard experience to think before he acts. In short, Brian is forced to mature.