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Book Club Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:
• How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
• Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
• Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)
Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Hatchet:
1. What is Brian's state of mind as he heads from New York to visit his father in Canada? What affect does his mother's "secret" have on him? Why won't he tell his father...or his mother that he knows about her affair? How does his mother respond to Brian's moodiness?
2. Talk about Brian's decision to commit suicide—what finally drives him to this point? In what way is he changed by his failed attempt?
3. What inner traits does Brian develop to survive in the wilderness? To which of those qualities do you most attribute his survival? Consider patience, self-control, perseverance.... What else?
4. From the beginnings of literature, stories have pitted man against nature. In what way does Hatchet turn that theme on its head? How does Brian's relationship to nature change during the course of this novel? What lessons does he learn about the natural world?
5. Brian's English teacher once told him that his mind has the power to control his body. In what way has Brian achieved greater harmony between mind and body?
6. At one point, Brian catches a glimpse of his reflection in the lake. What does he see? How has he changed physically?
7. When Brian finds the survival pack, he rejects the rifle. Why?
8. Hatchet is a coming-of-age story—in the extreme. Once rescued and returned to civilization, how has Brian's survival experience changed him? In what way is he a different boy than the one who stepped on the plane at the beginning of the story? How, for instance, does he come to view his parents' divorce?
9. Put yourself in Brian's shoes. How would you fare in his situation? Which personal qualities and skills would you draw upon to survive? Could you survive?
10. What is the significance of the title? Why would Gary Paulsen have chosen "hatchet" as the name of his book? What does the hatchet symbolize?
(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)
top of page (summary)
Essay Topic 1
In the beginning of the story, Brian is upset with his mother over "The Secret." Do you think it was helpful or harmful for Brian to stay quiet about it? How might the story have changed if Brian had discussed the situation and the divorce with his mother?
Essay Topic 2
Do you think that the gift of the hatchet was a peace offering to Brian, a simple gift, or mother's intuition? Examine the possibilities.
Essay Topic 3
The pilot's heart attack left Brian in the plane with no skill or instruction. Do you think this was a standard procedure? Should there have been a co-pilot? What might you have done in this situation?
Essay Topic 4
Brian tried the best he could to fly or land the plan even though he was terrified. Do you think that Brian was in shock or overcame the fear to take control...
(read more Essay Topics)
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