Brian is not only the protagonist of Hatchet, but he is also virtually the only character. We see the world totally from his perspective as he attempts to survive in the dense wilderness of northern Canada. Brian is presented as a moody teenager, bitter towards his parents and not someone likely to cope well alone in the wild. Brian’s stubbornness proves to be one of his greatest assets as he refuses to submit to destruction by the elements and uses whatever resources are available to aid him in his fight to survive. Brian’s somewhat average personality helps aid the reader’s empathy for him, making it easier to place oneself in Brian’s shoes.
The pilot appears so briefly in Hatchet that he might be overlooked as a character, were it not for the fact that he is indirectly responsible for Brian’s predicament. Ultimately Brian’s struggle is against nature and the elements (as well as himself), but the pilot is the unwitting initiator of the conflict.
Similarly to the pilot, Brian’s mother appears very briefly in Hatchet, but she must be considered a character for several reasons. First, her divorce, which Brian obviously disapproves of, sets the stage for Brian’s conflict with himself. Brian’s struggle against the elements set the backdrop for his struggle against his circumstances. Ironically, Brian’s mother is not only the provider of his struggle, but also his salvation, as she provides him with the gift of the hatchet, which ultimately leads to his ability to survive in the wild.
Brian is on his way to visit his father in Canada when his plane crashes. Brian's father and mother are separated, and Brian never tells his father about the Secret he knows about his mother: that she cheated on his father with another man while they were still married.
One of Brian's best friends back home, whom Brian thinks about often while stranded in the woods. Terry makes an appearance in one of Brian's dreams, telling him how to start a fire.
An old English teacher of Brian's, who used to repeatedly insist on the importance of attitude, motivation, and perseverance. Thinking of Mr. Perpich's teachings inspires Brian to keep fighting for survival.
Brian's uncle, who eats raw eggs in the morning. Thoughts of Uncle Carter reassure Brian that it is okay for him to eat the eggs he finds in the sand.
Hatchet Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Hatchet is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
As he is eating them, a black bear appears, eating as well. Brian slowly backs away towards the lake and his shelter, and the bear does not pursue him. Brian is thinking of his shelter as home and a place of safety.
While in the plane, he thinks a lot about the divorce and about a particular secret that he calls The Secret. This makes him nervous. As he is lost in his thoughts, he realizes that the pilot is in distress. The pilot has begun to have a heart...
The plane lurched again, hit more turbulence, and Brian felt the nose drop. It did not dive, but the nose went down slightly and the down-angle increased the speed, and he knew that at this angle, this slight angle down, he would...