During Incident at Hawk's Hill, what would have been useful to Ben?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is important to note that Ben is only six years old, and even without his slight autistic tendencies, a six-year-old would not be expected to understand and react to nature and the world in the way that adults do. With that said, Ben is highly intelligent, but in different ways; he understands the laws of nature, i.e. kill or be killed, and knows that he must survive over the other animals in the wilderness. Knowing that, a good thing for Ben to have would have been a working knowledge of woodcraft and basic survival skills. He essentially follows the lead of the badger sow, allowing her to set the standards for their existence; he doesn't build a fire or a larger shelter, and doesn't understand that he needs to stay dry or risk hypothermia.

He crawled on hands and knees a yard behind the mouse as the mouse walked along normally. Where the mouse dipped its muzzle to sniff... so to Ben, when he came to that same spot...
(Eckert, Incident at Hawk's Hill, amazon.com)

With a better understanding of human frailty compared to animals, which have evolved to live without artificial benefits (animals have fur, while humans do not), Ben may have been able to fully transition to a natural, "savage child" sort of life. Since he was more at home with the animals than with the humans anyway, he might have become what is in essence a hermit, living by instinct among the animals, but using human intelligence to stay alive and safe.