In The River, what has changed about Brian, and what has stayed the same?

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Brian has a remarkable combination of inner determination and physical strength. These qualities are part of his basic make-up. His physical capability can been essential in getting through difficult challenges. The can-do mindset is equally important, however. The reader gets the impression that Brian had these resources but was not fully aware of them before he survived along in the wilderness. Before embarking on his second adventure—this time planned in advance—he did not fully consider how much different it would be, given his knowledge that he succeeded the first time. This hard-won confidence does serve him well, although it also seems to generate complacency, but the greatest change is in his relationship to other people—specifically, to Derek.

In the first survival episode, Brian had to take care of himself. His own survival was always on his mind, although wanting to reunite with his family was a motivator. On the second trip, he is called upon to take responsibility for Derek as well. When exhausted and stretched to his physical limits, Brian is tempted to turn his back on Derek and blame him for their predicament. Accepting responsibility for another person provides the impetus for getting them out of a jam and indicates a giant step toward maturity.

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