Chapter 12 Summary
Brian makes a spear with a two-pronged, needle-sharp point out of a willow branch, but he cannot seem to capture any fish with it. He stands in the shallows at the edge of the lake and watches the fish swarm around his legs, but he is not fast enough to catch one. Brian concludes that he needs something to propel the spear forward, some kind of “motive force”; a bow and arrow might serve his purposes nicely.
After eating an egg and banking the fire, Brian takes his hatchet and his spear and sets off to find a piece of wood that would make a good bow. Along the way, he picks a few berries and eats them, then he is surprised to find that his stomach is full. Brian sees that his stomach is “caved in...it must have shrunk.” Ironically, a sense of hunger remains within him simultaneously with the feeling of fullness. The hunger, though not intense, is always with him and seems to sharpen his senses; it makes him “look for things, see things. A hunger to make him hunt.”
As Brian steps over a log about halfway up the lake, he is startled by a “feathered...explosion” at his feet and catches a glimpse of a speckled brown and gray bird about the size of a very small chicken. He reflects that it must not be a very smart species because it has almost allowed him to step on it before flying away. Brian thinks he might one day catch one of these birds with his spear and that it would make a very good meal.
Brian finds a tree with long branches that react with a “vicious snap” when he pulls on them. He begins chopping one off where it connects to the tree, thinking that it might make a good bow. The wood is hard, and Brian is so engrossed in his work that he does not at first hear a “persistent whine” in the air. When he becomes aware of the noise and recognizes it as a plane, he throws...
(The entire section is 532 words.)