Hatchet Literary Elements


Young Adult Adventure

Setting and Context

A remote forest in Canada.

Narrator and Point of View

The novel is narrated in third-person past tense from the perspective of Brian Robeson, a thirteen-year-old boy who becomes stranded in a forest while on the way to spend the summer with his father, when the pilot of his plane has a heart attack and dies.

Tone and Mood

The tone and mood of the novel shift in urgency depending on the situation at hand. The mood is frenzied and uptight when Brian deals with immediate problems, like the crashing plane or the moose attack, but lightens to a steadier exploratory tone while he is trying to establish a routine and figure out life in the forest.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Brian Robeson is the protagonist. There is no physical antagonist—rather, the antagonist is nature itself as Brian fights for survival.

Major Conflict

The novel's conflict revolves around Brian attempting to survive on his own in a remote forest with hardly anything, while he waits to potentially be rescued. He constantly makes mistakes from which he must learn.


The novel's climax occurs when the search plane flies over without stopping and Brian becomes the "new" Brian. At the climax, the novel shifts to the future, and Brian is looking back on the events that shaped his time in the forest towards the end of his experience there.


The pilot's pains early on in the flight foreshadow his eventual heart attack, and Brian's flying lesson foreshadows the fact that he will soon have to fly—and land—the plane himself. His constantly noticing the fish in the lake foreshadows his coming discovery that he can spear them and use them for food.






Imagery is detailed in the "Imagery" section of this ClassicNote.





Metonymy and Synecdoche



The most obvious example of personification occurs when Brian first creates fire. He imagines this fire as a sentiment being, a living friend that he must nurture and care for.