What is the external conflict and internal conflict in Hatchet?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most apparent notion of external conflict in the work exists between Brian and the wilderness.  The natural elements of weather, predators, and scarcity of resources help to provide the backdrop of natural challenge between both Brian and the outside world.  On a more internal level, Brian is presented as a very complex figure.  There is a level of conflict that exists between Brian and his parents, in particular, his mother and "the secret."  There is a resentment harboring and brewing within Brian at the start of the novel, especially so on the plane before it goes down in the wilderness.  Internally speaking, Brian is also battling with his own sense of self.  Part of him believes he will not make it and this collides with the part of him that believes he must survive.  The development of "tough hope," inspired by Mr. Perpich, helps to feed this conflict.  I would also suggest that the changes Brian undergoes between how he stands at the end of the work (mentally and physically) and how he stood at the start represents another level of conflict or division.

estoverl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hatchet, written by award winning young adult author Gary Paulson, is an intriguing adventure story. The main external conflict is Hatchet against the environment; he must survive after the plane taking him to his father crashes in the wilderness. Brain's first involvements with that external conflict have him crash landing the plane and trying to survive with just a hatchet. He is wounded and at first not very successful but survives and slowly begins to master his environment. 

Internally, Hatchet faces an even greater conflict. He is alone physically but also feels alone psychologically because of his parents' recent divorce. Alone in the wilderness as he tries to survive physically, he deals with conflicting feelings and guilt toward his mother and father regarding the divorce. 

For almost two months Hatchet battles these internal and external conflicts as he matures and learns to survive physically and emotionally.