Chapter 5 Summary

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Brian awakens in the midafternoon with an unbelievable thirst. He looks down at the lake and sees water aplenty there, but he is not sure if it is safe to drink. Brian thinks of the pilot, strapped down in the plane at the bottom of the lake, and is momentarily repulsed. But when he cannot think of another place from which to get water, he goes down to the lake and drinks.

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Although Brian had intended to allow himself only a sip or two of the life-restoring liquid, once he feels the water trickle past his parched lips and tongue, he cannot stop. He drinks until his stomach is swollen, then he staggers back up the bank and is immediately sick. Even though he throws up most of the water he has taken, Brian finds that his thirst is gone and that, for the first time since the crash, he can think clearly. Taking in his surroundings, he considers his situation, diligently trying to maintain a sense of calm and to think about one thing at a time.

Breaking things down in his mind to an elemental level that he can handle, Brian says to himself:

My name is Brian Robeson...and I am alone in the north woods of Canada.

Seized with a momentary sense of optimism, Brian reflects that although no one knows exactly where he is, when his parents discover he is missing, they will certainly arrange to have search parties look for him. Brian knows from news reports and movies he has seen about lost planes, that pilots routinely file flight plans detailing their projected route before they set out on any journey. It should be only a matter of time before rescuers will find him; perhaps they will even come today! Something about his reasoning bothers Brian, however, although he cannot quite put his finger on what it is. In the meantime, he becomes aware of another pressing need—he is hungry, filled with an emptiness that roars within him with an urgency that will not long be denied.

Brian has never before had to worry about having enough to eat, but looking around he sees nothing in his immediate surroundings that might serve to ease his hunger. Initially discouraged, he remembers his English teacher,

a guy named Perpich, who was always talking about...thinking positive, staying on top of things.

Brian decides to take stock of what he has, and he empties his pockets. He finds that he has some small change, a nail clipper, and a billfold with a useless twenty-dollar bill in it. In addition, he still has the hatchet that his mother had given him...

(The entire section contains 689 words.)

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