Chapter 15 Summary
Although Brian keeps track of the time that has passed since the crash by making a mark each day on a stone near his shelter door, in reality he measures time in the wilderness by events, keeping a sort of mental journal. One of the pivotal happenings during his lonely sojourn is the “Day of First Meat.”
Fish are plentiful in the lake, and Brian is able to catch as much as he needs, but he craves “heavier...deeper food”; he craves meat. He knows that squirrels are plentiful in the area, and he thinks he might be able to catch a rabbit with his spear or an arrow, but the creatures that intrigue him the most are the silly fowl he has named “foolbirds.” These birds are seemingly everywhere, but their color and feathers provide such effective camouflage that Brian finds it impossible to see them until they explode into flight at his feet. Despite this difficulty, he resolves to focus his first hunting attempt on the foolbirds and to stick with it until he catches one.
Brian has gone halfway around the lake and scared up at least twenty birds, but he is still unable to see them until they fly up and away. Taking a break for a moment, he sits at the base of a tree and tries to figure out what he is doing wrong. Perplexed, he gets up and starts to walk again, but he has not taken even two steps before a bird flies up at his feet. It was right next to him while he was thinking about the problem of how to see them!
Brian is chagrined, but this time something about the foolbird catches his eye. As he watches it fly, he notices that it has a distinctive shape, kind of like “a flying pear.” Brian experiences an epiphany as he realizes that instead of looking for the bird’s color, he needs to be searching for its outline; Brian must retrain his eyes to look for shape.
Now that he is conscious of what to look for, Brian begins to perceive things as he has never seen them before. Within moments, he sees three birds before they explode into flight, and he is emboldened to try to bring one down with his arrows. This method is unsuccessful, however, because his arrows, having no feathers, do little more than tumble from the bow. Brian decides to use his spear instead. After many tries, catches...
(The entire section is 630 words.)