What is the narrative structure of Hatchet? Dreams and flashbacks are frequently employed. Help me dicuss their signifiance. :)

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The narrative of this story has Brian alone with nobody to talk to by the end of the first chapter. The narrative isolation is continued until the final moments of the final chapter. This severely limits the opportunities that Paulsen has to develop Brian's character. The narration is from the...

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The narrative of this story has Brian alone with nobody to talk to by the end of the first chapter. The narrative isolation is continued until the final moments of the final chapter. This severely limits the opportunities that Paulsen has to develop Brian's character. The narration is from the third person perspective, so it is relatively easy for the narrator to give readers direct characterization; however, indirect characterization is made much harder when there isn't anybody around for a character to interact with and speak to. This is why the flashbacks are so critical. We get to see how Brian acts around other people. He becomes a much more real and rounded character because of these flashbacks that allow us to see Brian in any environment other than the wilderness. The flashbacks also serve to give readers more specific details and insight as to why Brian is an emotional wreck about his parents. The flashbacks let us know that Brian's mom cheated on his dad, and that helps us better understand how and why Brian hurts the way that he does.

The dreams serve as a way for the narrator to slightly break his narrative perspective. The narration is still focused on Brian, but it's now narrating a part of Brian (his subconscious) that we don't get to see/hear while Brian is awake. In a way, the dreams are sometimes similar to flashbacks themselves. The dreams let Brian relive and replay events that have occurred, but because his subconscious is in control, the "viewing angle" for Brian and readers is slightly different. This allows Brian to hone in on and remember important things that he saw and experienced that can be used to help his future survival. The hatchet making sparks is a good example of how a dream sequence alerted Brian to critical information.

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From a writer's standpoint, the narrative structure of Hatchet is remarkable in that the main character is alone throughout most of the book. Because of this, the writer, Gary Paulsen, cannot rely on dialog or character interactions to reveal changes in his main character, Brian Robeson. This is why dreams and flashbacks play such a significant role in the book.

Dreams allow Brian's unconscious self to act a bit like another character. He learns how to make a fire when a dream reminds him that he sent sparks flying when he hit stone with this hatchet, for example. In a story with a more traditional structure, a dream would not be necessary to reveal this to Brian. Instead, another character would likely point out the information Brian.

Flashbacks are used to develop Brian's character and show the readers the emotional issues that bother him. Although he is alone in the woods through most of the story, he does not exist in a vacuum. His relationships with others, particularly with his recently divorced parents, still figure heavily into his own feelings about himself. The flashbacks tell the story of the divorce and also reveal the way Brian changes as he learns more about himself during his isolation.

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