About the Book

Book Protagonist: Brian Robeson
Publication Date: 1986
Genre: Action and Adventure, Coming of Age, Teen and Young Adult



By Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen carefully built the characters in ‘Hatchet.’ This is evident in how each character is allowed to develop naturally.

Hatchet‘ is one book without many characters; however, the few characters in it are so well-crafted, they have autonomy and are allowed to develop before our eyes. We’ll take a look at the characters featured enough to be assigned personalities.

Brian Robeson

He is the protagonist. The narrator follows him throughout. We in turn follow the narrator. Brian, a thirteen-year-old boy still dealing with the pain of his parent’s divorce, is given more to deal with. The pilot flying him on his routine visit to his father dies. He controls the aircraft as much as he can and finally crash-lands into the wilderness. His forehead was swollen for days from the crash. The mosquitoes and black flies—the type he had never seen before—weren’t helping at all.

In that wilderness, Brian learns and unlearns. He learns to stop making rash decisions and to think things through. He already made many mistakes which ended up costing him a lot. He also learns from them. In fact, he’d go on to make more mistakes, but not as dire as the previous ones. He usually learns from his mistakes and that is very important. We never see him making the same mistake twice. This is worth applauding. In the forest, he loses seventeen percent of his body weight. Outside, he gains six percent back, but it is likely he would remain lean for years.

Brian’s Mother

The first time we meet her, she is driving Brian to the airport to board the plane that would take him to Canada to stay with his father for some time. From what we see, Brian’s mum is caring. Brian recalls her making him food so many times- roast turkey especially. He remembers this in the wilderness.

On their way to the airport, she expresses concern and tells him to open up. It is the same things Brian has been hearing- divorce, secrets. On Brian’s way to the airport, she gives him a hatchet. It is this hatchet that saves Brian’s life. The hatchet becomes Brian’s main work tool, helps him build everything he builds in the desert, helps him make the fire, and helps him break into the plane.

He enjoyed the supplies just for a little because he was rescued (or more appropriately a plane came for him) right after. The transmitter that made the pilot come search for him, he also got from that plane. That hatchet was his savior. It ended up being the most thoughtful gift he had ever gotten. When it falls into the lake, Brian’s determination to retrieve it shows just how important it was to him, the precious gift from his mother.

The Pilot

From the little that is revealed, he was concerned to a reasonable extent. A man in his mid-fifties flying a thirteen-year-old boy, they didn’t have much in common or much to talk about. He tried what he could. During the flight, he allowed Brian to take control for some time and tells him it only takes learning to perform, and that if he took some time to practice, he would become an expert if he so wished. Named Jim, Jake, or something (as Brian liked to address him) he died aboard the plane, leaving Brian’s fate in Brian’s own hands. Towards the end of Brian’s stay in the desert, when he decides to get the survival pack from the plane after the tornado brings its tail up, Brian says a prayer for the pilot.


Who is the protagonist in Hatchet?’

The protagonist in ‘Hatchet’ is Brian Robeson, a thirteen-year-old old boy who crash-lands into a forest presumed to be in Canada. There, with his hatchet and a strong will to survive, he faces severe challenges head-on for fifty-four days.

How would you describe Brian Robeson’s mother?

Brian Robeson’s mother can be described as caring. We see this on her way to the airport with Brian. Yes, her affair and the divorce do not make Brian see that very much. Regardless, she is a good mother to Brian. It is the hatchet she gives her son that ends up saving him.

How many main characters are in ‘Hatchet?’

Every character in the story of ‘Hatchet is important; however, Brian Robeson is featured the most, so it is correct to describe him as the main character in ‘Hatchet.’ Brian’s mother, the pilot that died and the pilot that rescued Brian also feature. Brian’s friend, his father, and the blond guy come as flashbacks. The first two also appeared in his dream once, while he was in the forest.

How well did Gary Paulsen handle characterization in ‘Hatchet?’

Gary Paulsen handled characterization in ‘Hatchet’ very well. Every character featured enough is allowed to develop so much so that a personality can be assigned to the character.

Chioma Julie
About Chioma Julie
Chioma is a graduate of Mass Communication. With an unwavering love for music, movies and books, sometimes, she also writes to unwind.
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