What might have happened if Brian, in Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, had gone through regular airport security in today's world?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I assume you are referring to the plane ride Brian Robeson takes in the opening chapter of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

When we first meet the thirteen-year-old, he is full of excitement about making a trip into the Canadian wilderness to meet his father who is working as a mechanical engineer. He is the only passenger in the Cessna 406 bush plane, and he is sitting next to the rather sullen pilot.

We know that this trip ends in a bit of a disaster, but something that helps him immeasurably as the story progresses is the hatchet his mother gave him before he left. 

Brian is mad at his mother, because he knows "the secret" about why his parents got divorced. He has not told her that he knows the terrible secret, but his mother does sense that something significant is upsetting her son. Brian spends his school year with her, but now he gets to spend the summer with his father. 

Just before they arrive at the airport, Brian's mother presents him with a special gift: a hatchet. It is 

the kind with a steel handle and a rubber handgrip.

Even better, it comes with a case he can wear on his belt. 

This hatchet becomes invaluable to the boy, and it is a good thing he had it with him. But of course he was on a private plane heading into the Canadian wilderness. If he had been boarding any modern commercial plane, that hatchet would not have gone with him. 

The least significant thing that would happen to a boy with a hatchet who wants to board an airplane is that his hatchet would be confiscated and not returned to him. At the worst, of course, he could be suspected of intending to do great harm--including an act of terrorism--while on the plane. 

Let's face it, a teenage boy would probably not be treated like a hardened criminal; on the other hand, the TSA and other airport safety official are nothing to play around with. He would probably be questioned and then relieved of his "lethal weapon."

For more insights and analysis on this well known novel, visit the excellent eNotes websites linked below. 

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