In The River, why does Derek want to begin his psychological study as soon as he lands?

In The River, Derek wants to begin his psychological study as soon as he and Brian land because he notices that Brian has changed, that he's not the same person. This is an interesting fact for Derek, and he wants to write it down as soon as possible, even before the pilot has had a chance to unload the plane.

Expert Answers

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Derek has managed to convince Brian to accompany him on a trip out into the wilderness. Derek works as a psychologist at a government survival school and hopes to learn crucial survival skills from Brian that he will then be able to use as a basis for his own teaching.

Derek has chosen well as Brian—who first made his appearance in Hatchet—once managed to survive alone in the Canadian wilderness for fifty-four days.

As part of his psychological study, Derek observes Brian very closely: how he conducts himself in the wilderness, how he reacts to his environment, and so on. Just after they land, Brian starts looking around at their new surroundings. Straight away, he feels that he knows the clearing and the woods. Thanks to his experience of living out in the wilderness, he's immediately able to sense how everything in the forest fits together, how all the flora and fauna are arranged.

Observing Brian's reaction to the forest, Derek realizes straight away that the young man's changed, that he's not the same person. With no time to lose, Derek pulls out his notebook and starts jotting down his observations. Even though he and Brian have only just landed, and even though the pilot hasn't had time to unload the plane, Derek has already made a start on his psychological study, as he's observed a remarkable change in Brian.

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