Gary Paulsen’s novel, Hatchet, explores the concept of individuals moving Into The World through the literal representation of a new and unfamiliar environment while also using the idea of initiation into manhood as a metaphorical doorway into a new world.   Paulsen’s protagonist, Brian Robeson must learn to survive by himself in the harsh and unforgiving world of the Canadian north. As the novel progresses Brian develops in maturity and adopts qualities that are relevant not only to wilderness survival but also to life as a whole. He has overcome the barriers of this new world with patience, observation, an appreciation for the natural world, and a newfound connection between mind and body, “He was not the same and would never be again like he had been. That was one of the true things, the new things. “ Paulsen conveys that Brian’s recently acquired traits used to cope in his new world   all contribute to Brian's development and journey into a metaphorical world; his emerging manhood.
Paulsen describes Brian’s transition and journey from childhood into manhood as being brought on by his time in the woods. At the beginning of the novel Brian is unable to identify himself in a family but is still unable to see himself as an adult or to seek his own sense of identity as a separate person. Paulsen reveals Brian’s choice “Brian faces a choice: grow up and be tough, or die.” Brian accepts the challenge and emerges from it having experienced the responsibilities and pressures of adulthood. This theme touches upon the allegory of a universal tradition seen in many cultures and nations. Particularly for boys, a rite of initiation often involves a solitary excursion into nature.