Why does Brian feel fire is his friend?

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In the novel Hatchet, Brian attempts to survive in the wilderness with very few resources, in a mostly untraveled and desperately cold part of Canada. Anyone who has been a survivalist knows that fire is one of the most vital resources when attempting to survive or find rescue.

Brian feels that fire is his friend because it will keep him warm and allow him to cook his food to keep him alive during his ordeal. Without it, he would quickly freeze to death, and, if not, would likely starve because his sources of food (mostly fish and small animals) would be inedible without cooking. Beyond the simple idea of keeping himself safe and alive through heat, fire also provides light and smoke, which act to signal potential rescuers from a great distance. He misses an opportunity to signal a passing plane with his flame, but it would have made an excellent chance at salvation.

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Fire is the key not only to survival, but to rescue. Fire cooks Brian's food, keeps predators away, gives him a feeling of security at night, and provides warmth. Before Brian sees the spark in the dark (when he throws the hatchet in the dark cave, it strikes a rock and makes a spark), he does not know he has a means of making fire. Brian makes a major mistake, though, in not keeping the fire large enough. When his one early chance at rescue comes in the form of a small plane flying overhead, he does not hear it in time to generate the necessary amount of smoke he needs in order to be seen.

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