Hatchet Questions and Answers
by Gary Paulsen

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What was still troubling Brian about his parents' divorce in "Hatchet"?

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Rebecca Karli eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There are a few things bothering Brian about his parents' divorce. Obviously, it destroyed his stable, happy life, but it was also the reason and the process that nagged him. He refers to the cause of his parents' divorce as "The Secret", and he later reveals that the secret was that his mother was having an affair. During the divorce process, he is annoyed by all the strangers involved, the lawyers and judges, who act so disingenuous yet have so much power in deciding his fate. The court rules that he will live with his mother and that his father has visitation rights. He is conflicted over his feelings for his mother; while he blames her for tearing the family apart, she can also be very tender in how she talks and treats him. This reminds him of the days when she was nurturing and they were still a family, which makes him bitter and confused about who she really is.

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dswain001 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Like any child his age, Brian is very hurt by his parent's decision to divorce and is having a difficult time coping. When the story opens, BrianĀ  is on his way to visit his father in Canada. Brian realizes that this is the first of many school vacations and holidays that he will spend being shuffled back and forth between his parents.

Brian's struggle is compounded by his knowledge of his mother's infidelity. One day while out playing with a friend, Brian spies his mother kissing a man in the parking lot of a mall. We can assume that this man is his mother's lover and quite possibly the reason his parents are getting divorced.

Brian refers to his mother's infidelity as "the secret" and he thinks of it often. It consumes his thoughts and sometimes his dreams. "The secret" causes tension between Brian and his mother. Perhaps he blames her for the divorce?

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