Hatchet Characters

  • Brian Robeson is the protagonist of Hatchet. His parents appear only in flashback, and, with the exception of two pilots who appear at the beginning and end of the novel, respectively, there are no other characters in the main action of the novel. The narrative focuses entirely on Brian, the thirteen-year-old boy stranded in the Canadian woods after a plane crash.
  • At the beginning of the novel, Brian is just a teenage boy with no real survival skills. His parents have recently divorced, and he's keeping the secret of his mother's extramarital affair for reasons he can't explain. His experience in the woods helps him work through some of the anger and frustration about the divorce, but he remains understandably conflicted about his relationship with his mother even after his rescue.
  • In the course of the novel, Brian grows from a young, almost helpless teenager to a capable and resourceful young man whose experiences have taught him to think before he acts. His time in the wilderness has forever changed him, making him stronger and more observant and deepening his connection to nature.


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Brian is the only active character in the story. Two pilots appear briefly (one whose death strands Brian and one who rescues him) at the beginning and end of the novel. Brian's parents are mentioned frequently but are present only when their son remembers them.

Brian is a typical adolescent at the start of the novel. He is unremarkable physically and intellectually. What he knows of life comes from attending school, playing with friends, watching television, going to the movies, reading magazines, and listening to his parents. He is also typical because his parents, like a large number of married couples in the 1980s and 1990s, are divorced. The one untypical thing about him is his possession of the Secret, the awareness of his mother's lover. Brian saw them kiss in a car parked at the mall.

Yet Brian proves surprisingly resilient in the wilderness. Having to bear the Secret has made him unexpectedly self-reliant. From books, television shows, and games, he recalls tidbits of information about finding food, building shelter, or understanding animal behavior. They are his reference volumes for dealing with the present and the unexpected. He reinvents ways to accomplish the most routine, unconscious tasks such as telling time and marking days. From parents and teachers he remembers advice and motivational slogans: "You are the best asset you have." Although Brian's predicament seems overwhelming—he is alone, without any supplies except a hatchet, lost...

(The entire section is 490 words.)