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Published on Nov 19, 2015

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Gary Paulsen by: Mario Van Schaick
Photo by P!XELTREE


Brian has to overcome the pain he has from his parents divorce. He has to overcome this brokenness while trying to survive in the Canadian Wilderness all alone after his plane crashed on the way to visit his father. He has to adapt to a different kind of lifestyle. From once living in New York City to now stranded in the woods, Brian faces many struggles that test him in many different ways.

Hero Templates

Brian is defined as a tragic hero because he was raised in a somewhat wealthy family in New York City and then through his parents divorce, experienced pain and through that became broken. Then as he lived in the North Woods of Canada, his perspective and outlook on life changed forever. Becoming self-reliant and determined, Brian uses his mind and body to fight to survive. Brian is also a Misfit hero because he has to overcome the mental anguish hes struggling with and become more independent. He has to set aside the hurt of his parents divorce and not define himself through his parents as he did in the past. Brian doesn't let this pain take him over and that's why he is a misfit hero as well as a tragic hero.

Tragic and Misfit

Misfit and Tragic hero compare because they both contribute to the task of overcoming something and surviving not only physically but mentally. Tragic and Misfit have to deal with the environment the hero is surrounded in. Tragic and Misfit play the role of using the environment to adapt and learn essential things to survive. In Brian's case it's the Canadian wilderness and his perspective on life will change forever because he's all alone adapting to a different lifestyle.


The hero's setting is the Canadian wilderness and it was not chosen. Due to the plane crash he is forced to try and survive isolated with only nature. His setting is with animals and he believes himself as a creature just like the animals thriving to survive. His instincts become quicker as he tunes into the harmony of nature. The lake is essential to his needs as he catches fish with his spear. His hunting style becomes more effective and he becomes more aware of animals lurking for him.

Photo by jjwhitt_brf

Brian's trials

Brian is tested in many areas. These areas and stages are mental battles that Brian has to face and overcome. These mental battles are thoughts of his parents divorce and Brian learns how to fight for his mind as his Journey proceeds. On this journey of survival he has to learn to adapt to the environment and learn to become stronger as a person. Brian realizes that he was defining himself through his parents. This isolation makes him become more independent and manhood starts to develop in his life. Brian's significance to the book as a whole is his ability to persevere. The tough hope he possesses when times seem hopeless is a huge significance to the book. The theme is survival.


Pg.70 "Long tears, self-pity tears, wasted tears."
Pg.127 "I am full of tough hope"
Pg.51 "You are your most valuable asset. Don't forget that. You are the best thing you have."
Pg.40 "If you keep walking back from good luck, he thought, you'll come to bad luck."
Pg.145 "So much of this was patience-waiting and thinking and doing things right."

Important Passage

"He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn't work. It wasn't just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that—it didn't work."

Theme Slide

The hero's purpose (Brian) is to overcome all the anger, self-pity, and despair that has been built up from his parents divorce. Brian gives insight into life by the testings and struggles he faces through survival. He represents a symbol of hope because he doesn't give up and keeps believing he will be rescued and he does. The author (Gary Paulsen) wrote this book to show the importance of hope and perseverance. Paulsen wants the reader to consider the things that are possible if you believe and use your mind and body in the right way.