How is Brian led to the berries in Hatchet?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Brian is led to the berry bushes by the birds.

Brian had heard that the woods were full of berry bushes.  After his plane crashes, he knows that he has to find food, and he decides that berries are his best bet.  He remembers the mantra to keep it simple.  He figures that the berry bushes will be in the brush, so he stays close to the lake.  He is shocked when the birds lead him right to them.

Brian starts walking, and notices that the trees are full of birds.  The birds are singing, and right by the birds, he notices the berries they are eating.

He could not believe it was that easy. It was as if the birds had taken him right to the berries. The slender branches went up about twenty feet and were heavy, drooping with clusters of bright red berries. (Ch. 6)

The berries are “half as big as grapes” and so bitter that he almost spits them out.  They have large pits like cherries, making them also hard to eat.  However, he is so hungry that he keeps eating them.  He has gone two days without food.  He makes a pouch out of his windbreaker and picks some of the berries to save for later, so the birds don’t eat them all.

Brian wakes up with his stomach turning because of the berries.

It was as if all the berries, all the pits had exploded in the center of him, ripped and tore at him. He crawled out the doorway and was sick in the sand, … vomiting and with terrible diarrhea for over an hour… (Ch. 7)

He decides he is sick from eating too many of them, and gives them the name “gut cherries.”  He does not want to eat more the next day, but they are the only food he has.  He decides to eat only a few, “to stave off the hunger a bit.”  This time he is pickier about which ones he eats, and makes sure they are ripe.  He also finds some raspberries later.  They taste better, but he has competition from a bear!

Brian is skilled and intelligent.  This is why he is able to learn to survive on his own in the wilderness.  This story is a good example of how he learns to use stories that people have told him in the past, common sense, and trial and error to stay alive.

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