In the subtext of Hatchet's plot, Gary Paulsen addresses real-world
issues including divorce and its effects on kids. He presents sub-textual
commentary on each issue; he believes that divorce tears children apart
emotionally, but at the same time can make children stronger with
adolescence in the sense that the child has been through life experiences
and learns how to handle traumatic experiences. Also divorce could be a way
children escape trauma like parents fighting.
WHAT WE FOUND IN OUR RESEARCH
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, there were more than 2.1 million marriages in the United States as of July 2009. Almost half of American marriages end in divorce, affecting more than 1 million children each year. (Children of Divorced Parents, paragraph 2)
The repercussions may be felt long after the court cases are
settled. Judith Wallerstein, a San Francisco-area
psychologist, followed the development of 130 children of
divorced parents for up to 15 years. Boys, she found, tend to
be affected immediately, becoming disruptive in the
classroom or skipping school altogether. And, in the long
run, they are more likely to drop out of school than boys
from intact families. Young girls suffer from what
Wallerstein calls a sleeper effect. They often appear to
recover quickly but have really only repressed their fears
and anxieties, which surface in adulthood and make it
difficult to establish lasting relationships with men. (Jenish,
The thinking started
Always it started with a single word.
It was an ugly word, he thought. A tearing, ugly word that meant fights and yelling, lawyers—God, he thought, how he hated lawyers who sat with their comfortable smiles and tried to explain to him in legal terms how all that he lived in was coming apart—and the breaking and shattering of all the solid things. His home, his life—all the solid things. Divorce. A breaking word, an ugly breaking word. (Paulsen, chapter 1)
Not only the separation, but the fighting and lawyers also effect children during divorce. Paulsen clearly shows this in the first few lines of the book.
Bala, a family law professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. "But, in general, it is a negative experience. Some children, for reasons we don't understand, are more resilient than others. Bala notes that, in marriages rife with conflict, children may actually be better off when parents split up. (Jenish, paragraph 2-3)
One Toronto mother, who asked that her name not be used, was separated in August, 1992, and enrolled her children in a counselling program that, she says, helped them vent their anger. One daughter, nine-year-old Samantha, says: "I felt sad at first, like I would never see Dad again. Right now, it doesn't feel that bad. It's better because they don't fight as often." (Jenish , paragraph 3)
Divorce is very common and has devastating effects. Therefore these devastating effects become more common.
Not only does divorce ruin children's futures the process of divorce can also be traumatic with fighting and lawyers.
Divorce can make kids stronger with adolescence as they have gone through trauma and know how to handle themselves the next time they are faced with a traumatic situation.
Jenish, D'Arcy. "Can kids cope? Debating the effect of divorce on children." Maclean's, 20 June 1994, p. 38. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A15496820/OVIC?u=mari6646&sid=OVIC&xid=4a8f3e8e
Hatchet: Gary Paulsen
Opposing Viewpoints: Children of Divorced Parents
Opposing Viewpoints: Can kids cope? Debating the effect of divorce on children.
"Children of Divorced Parents." Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/PC3010999344/OVIC?u=mari6646&sid=OVIC&xid=d752141f
Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013.