Gary Paulson makes ample use of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, alliterations, personification, and hyperbole. This makes Hatchet an interesting and dynamic book to read. Below is an example of each.
It was as if his arms were lead.
This is a simile. Using the word as, Brian's arms are compared to the heavy inert metal of lead. This emphasizes Brian's inability to move or take action after the plane's pilot suddenly dies.
The plane, with the increased speed from the tilt down, swooped eagerly up and drove Brian's stomach down.
Since planes are inanimate things, saying that it did anything eagerly is a personification. People can feel eagerness, not airplanes. However, this use of personification adds depth to the description of the plane's actions.
his whole brain screamed in the sudden silence.
Here, the author uses an alliteration. The repetition of words beginning in s lends a poetic element that emphasizes the terror of the engine of the airplane going quiet.
His stomach tightened into a series of rolling knots ...
To say that Brian's stomach became rolling knots is a use of hyperbole. He is desperately nervous to be sure. However, this is an extreme exaggeration used to drive home the severity of Brian's emotional state.
thick swarming hordes of mosquitos that flocked to his body, made a living coat on his exposed skin ...
This metaphor compares the vast number of mosquitos tormenting Brian to a coat. By using the metaphor of a coat, the author is driving home the idea that Brian is completely covered by mosquitos the way one would be by a piece fo clothing.
When he stopped there was sudden silence, not just from him but the clicks and blurps and bird sounds of the forest as well.
Clicks and blurps are examples of onomatopoeia. It represents and describes the actual sounds of the forest so that the reader has a good idea of what the sound actually is.
Similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification are all examples of figurative language. Onomatopoeia and alliteration are sound devices. Authors use all of these to add depth and interest to their words.
A metaphor is a comparison that describes something as something else. Here is an example from the beginning of the book where Brian is describing the plane’s ascent.
He had never flown in a single-engine plane before and to be sitting in the copilot's seat with all the controls right there in front of him, all the instruments in his face as the plane clawed for altitude, jerking and sliding on the wind currents as the pilot took off, had been interesting and exciting. (Ch. 1)
The phrase “clawed for altitude” is not literal of course. The plane is ascending, because that is what planes do. Paulsen describes the plane as if it were an animal, clawing at the air as it goes up. The “sea of green trees” is also a metaphor, because it just means a lot of green trees, not an actual sea.
Personification is the act of describing something as if it were a human. In this case, the river is given a human quality.
The drone and the sea of green trees that lay before the plane's nose and flowed to the horizon, spread with lakes, swamps, and wandering streams and rivers. (Ch. 1)
Rivers do not wander. People do. To wander, you have to have no destination in mind and be walking aimlessly. The river is described as wandering because it moves through the landscape not in a straight line.
A simile is a comparison where you describe something as looking like something, not as something. Usually the word “like” or “as” is used, but not always. A simile is an indirect comparison.
The pilot sat large, his hands lightly on the wheel, feet on the rudder pedals. He seemed more a machine than a man, an extension of the plane. (Ch. 1)
In this case, the pilot is compared to a machine. He seems like a machine because he is concentrating on the plane and his actions make the plane operate, almost as if he were a part of the plane itself.
Alliteration is the repetition of initial sounds, the sounds at the beginning of a word.
Now the plane lurched slightly to the right and Brian looked at the pilot. He was rubbing his shoulder again and there was the sudden smell of body gas in the plane. (Ch. 1)
In this case “sudden smell” is alliteration because it repeats the “s” sound at the beginnings of the words. Alliteration makes words almost musical, and in this case highlights the tension Brian is feeling as the pilot becomes ill.
Hyperbole is an exaggeration. It is a type of figurative language where something is described in a very extreme way. When the pilot realizes he is having a heart attack, he uses hyperbole.
Brian knew. The pilot's mouth went rigid, he swore and jerked a short series of slams into the seat, holding his shoulder now. Swore and hissed, "Chest! Oh God, my chest is coming apart!" (Ch. 1)
Obviously the pilot’s chest is not literally coming apart. It just hurts so badly that it feels like it is coming apart, and he is scared, so he exaggerates.
Onomatopoeia is a sound device where a word is used that looks like it sounds.
For a second all he heard was the whussshof the empty air waves. Then, through the noise and static he heard a voice. (Ch. 1)
The sound is used to create a sort of sound effect, so you can hear what is happening as if it were happening.