Two very important objects for Brian in the novel Hatchet are his hatchet and the survival pack he struggles to retrieve from the sunken plane. Explain what each of those items symbolizes to the...

Two very important objects for Brian in the novel Hatchet are his hatchet and the survival pack he struggles to retrieve from the sunken plane. Explain what each of those items symbolizes to the protagonist and his conflict in the story. How do they each help him? 

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The hatchet has several meanings for Brian.  Although it is essential to his survival, it is also a connection to his past. His mother gave it to him, and when he thinks of her, he thinks of The Secret.  The Secret is his mother’s affair, and the reason for the divorce.  He saw her with a man who was not his father, and that fact ate away at him.  He almost said no when she gave it to him.

He fingered the hatchet at his belt. It was the only weapon he had, but it was something.

He had to have some kind of shelter. No, make that more: He had to have some kind of shelter and he had to have something to eat. (Ch. 5)

The hatchet was useful to Brian as a way to build his shelter, and get food.  He tries to make a spear with it.  He can chop up wood with it.  He feels more comfortable knowing that he has some kind of weapon.

Brian decides to go into the plane to get the survival pack.  Getting the survival pack is difficult, but the thought of what it might have sustains him.  Getting it out of the plane is even harder, because the pilot’s body frightens him.  He didn’t expect it to be half-eaten by fish.  The survival pack symbolizes Brian’s connection to the rest of the world.  When he finds it, it is a gift.

TREASURE.

Unbelievable riches. He could not believe the contents of the survival pack. (Ch. 19)

The survival kit has a sleeping bag, a gun, food, frying pans, matches, and an emergency transmitter.  He turns it on and doesn’t think it works, but it is what finally gets him rescued.  A plane hears it, and comes to find him, even though he didn’t know it was Brian he was coming to get.  The search for Brian had ended a few months before.

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Hatchet

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