Hatchet Chapter 4 Summary
by Gary Paulsen

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Chapter 4 Summary

Brian dreams about The Secret, the memory “slicing deep into him with hate.” He had been riding his bike with his friend Terry. As they passed the Amber Mall, Brian had just happened to look over Terry’s head to see his mother sitting in a station wagon with a stranger. The stranger was a man with short blond hair and wearing a white tennis shirt. Brian’s mother had not seen him but he had clearly seen her.

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Brian wakes up screaming, and for a moment he does not know where he is. Remembering the crash, he screams until his breath is gone. He tries to move but finds that he hurts everywhere. Awareness slowly dawns on him and he realizes that, amazingly, he is alive. Brian discovers that he is lying with his legs still in the lake. He manages to pull himself out of the water and crawl to a small stand of brush, where he curls up and abandons himself to a deep, dreamless sleep.

When Brian awakens again, it is dark, and he at first begins to panic. Turning his head, he notices that the sky is lightening across the lake. He realizes it is morning. Brian rolls onto his back and takes stock of his condition. He aches with an “all over pain.” He discovers that although he is battered, he seems to be able to move freely and nothing appears to be broken.

Brian’s forehead is “massively swollen to the touch” and feels extremely tender. He acknowledges that he “could have been done” and appreciates the mere fact that he has survived. With sadness and a sense of horror, he thinks of the pilot still strapped to his seat in the plane at the bottom of the lake, dead.

Pulling himself into a sitting position with his back against a tree, Brian watches the sun come up over the end of the lake. He finds that he cannot think clearly; everything seems to be happening in a haze. Suddenly, with the warmth of the rising sun, hordes of mosquitoes attack him, “thick, whining, buzzing masses of them.” Brian tries to protect himself from the vicious creatures but quickly finds that there is no escape. Hunkering down beneath his tattered windbreaker, Brian manages to endure the onslaught of the stinging, annoying insects. Thankfully, when the sun reaches its zenith and shines on him directly, the mosquitoes inexplicably disappear.

Brian tries to stand and finds that the effort leaves him so weak at first that he almost collapses. Once he regains some steadiness, he surveys his surroundings, examining the lake stretched out before him and the endless...

(The entire section is 684 words.)