While I’m not normally one for “Castaway” type narratives (Sorry, Wilson), I must admit that I found Paulsen’s Hatchet striking in its narration of Brian Robeson’s survival in the Canadian wilderness. Within Hatchet, I think there’s something to be said for this concept of “fate,” or “luck”as Brian might call it. While one might say that Brian suffered bad luck or fate by becoming victim to a plane crash, ultimately, a series of small good turns of fate lead to his survival and recovery (namely the hatchet on his belt, the windstorm, and the recovery of the survival bag followed by the accidental turning on of the emergency transmitter all working in tandem). He needed each of those occurrences combined in order to live on through his journey.
We see “fate” acting in similar manner in Walk Two Moons; the characters are brought together via unfortunate event and ultimately manage survival through each other. Phoebe and Sal heal each other from the loss of their mothers, as Mrs. Cadaver bonds with Mr. Hiddle from their common interest of having had a deep connection with Chanhassen (Sugar).
The question being presented at hand is how much does “fate” affect our chance of survival as people? Do the small, seemingly innocuous actions we take part in (strapping a hatchet to one’s belt to please your saddened mother, for instance) make the most difference? Are small chance encounters the ones that end up mattering the most over the course of our lives (Mrs. Cadaver being seated next to Chanhassen during the six day bus tour to Lewiston, Idaho).
I’d be extremely interested in exploring these ideas in a classroom setting with students.