Short Essay Questions For Hatchet

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...

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Free Study Guide for Hatchet by Gary Paulsen



1.) b

2.) a

3.) c

4.) b

5.) a

6.) b

7.) c

8.) b

9.) c

10.) a

11.) c

12.) c

13.) a

14.) b

15.) b


1.) Explain what you think would have happened between Brian and his parents if he had never crashed and why you believe this.

2.) What is the Secret and why is it eating at Brian’s emotions?

3.) Explain how Brian’s character changes over the fifty-four days he is lost. Give examples to show the changes.

4.) What might the outcome have been if Brian had never been given the hatchet? Explain why you believe this.

5.) Explain what lessons Brian learned from the following: the bear, the porcupine and the skunk, the mother bear and her cubs, the wolves, and the moose. How did he learn each lesson?

6.) Why did Brian believe his tears were wasted? How did that realization help him to grow?

7.) Explain how his memories helped Brian to survive.

8.) Explain the significance of Brian feeling uncomfortable with the rifle after he finds it in the survival pack.

9.) Give examples of how this experience changed Brian’s life after he was rescued.

10.) Why didn’t Brian ever tell his father the Secret? What does this say about the change in his character?

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