Several years ago I was forced to read the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for an early education class. I hated it, I mean I really, really didn’t like it at all. But the strange thing was, I had no clue why I didn’t like it. It had a well developed main character, it had a lot of action and adventure, being a child’s book it wasn’t too complicated, I just didn’t like it. It wasn’t until very recently when I had a little adventure of my own that I finally figured out why.
It happened like this:
I used the toilet, I washed and dried my hands, and then I pulled and twisted on the bathroom door knob. “Plop” It fell off and into my hand. I slowly opened my hand and stared down at the little, round door knob sitting merrily in my palm.
Hmm, that isn’t good.
Well, crud. How was I supposed to get out now?
First I tried to fit the stem of the door knob back into the hole it came out of. Nope, that wasn’t happening.
Then I grabbed the towel rack that was attached to the door and tried to jiggle the door open with that. Nope, that didn’t work either.
Then I stood back and thought about my problem for a little bit. I wanted to get the door open, and as far as I knew there were only two ways to get a door open. I could try to get the locking mechanism in the door to unlock, but the hole the door knob fell out of was dark and I wouldn’t be able to see what I was doing, so that wasn’t a great option. Or I could pull the pins in the door hinges, much easier.
The first pin pulled out really easily with just my fingers. The second pin was another story. It was painted into the hinge (and maybe welded) and it wasn’t leaving without a fight.
I used a nail file to clean as much of the paint off of the hinge pin as I could and then got a good grip on it and tried to pull it out with my fingers. It didn’t work. Then I got a toothbrush and used the handle to pry the pin out. That didn’t work either. Then I twisted strands of dental floss together into a cord (yes, I’m serious) wrapped one end of the cord around the head of the pin, and the other end around the floss box to use as a handle, and tried to yank the pin out like that. Waxed dental floss is really hard to hold on to. It didn’t work.
It took over two hours and twenty different plans for me to finally fashion a toothbrush handle into a shiv and use that to pick the lock of the bathroom door.
“Woohoo, I’m free, I’m free!”
I cheered, I laughed, I gave my cat a hug. And then I realized why I didn’t like that book.
Never in the hours that I was trapped, did I sit down and feel sorry for myself and wait for prince charming to come along and save me from my potty prison. I got frustrated, I dealt with failure after failure, but I never stopped trying to solve my own problems.
The main character of Hatchet did a lot of brave things, and he over came a lot of little obstacles while trying to survive in the wilderness. But from the beginning of the book to the end, he always clung to the idea that some prince charming/rescue plane was going to come a long and whisk him away from his problem. His problem was he was stuck in the woods, but he stayed where he crash landed for a crazy amount of time, like months and months. In half that time he could have just walked home if he had tried to solve the problem himself.
Even as a very small child I would have never waited for someone else to come and save me.
So, that’s why I don’t like Hatchet.
Bathroom door fixed, mystery solved.