In "Hatchet," how do the turtle tracks help Brian begin thinking the way an animal thinks?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Brian follows the turtle tracks and discovers that the turtle had come "up from the water to a small pile of sand, then (gone) back down into the water", his first thought is that it had come up to the sand simply "to play and make a pile in the sand".  The naivete in his own instinctive interpretation makes Brian smile, and he chides himself for being a "city boy".  The turtle track incident is significant because it brings Brian to an awareness of the shortcomings of his way of looking at things, and forces him to make a conscious effort to "change to fully understand...or he (will) not make it" (Chapter 10).

Once he has altered his way of thinking, Brian begins to notice subtle changes within himself.  He finds that he sees and hears differently - "when a sound came to him now he didn't just hear it but would know the sound...he could know what the sound was before he quite realized he had heard it...when he saw something...he would truly see that thing, not just notice it...he would see all parts of it" (Chapter 11).  Because he has made himself think as an animal thinks, Brian's senses, like an animal, have become sharper and more acute.  He is developing the skills to survive in the wild, just like the animals do.