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

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melkoosmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.