Gary Paulsen: A Life of Adventure and Survival
Gary Paulsen’s whole life reflects his life of adventures and survival in the wilderness and his writing reflects his experiences. Living in the remote Minnesota woods Paulsen released Some Birds Don't Fly in 1966 (Trelease), and began his professional writing career and now has achieved three Newbery Honor Books with his novels - Hatchet, The Winter Room and Dogsong (Pendergast). Paulsen’s most popular book, Hatchet, a story of a young boy named Brian who lands a plane after the pilot dies from a heart attack and must survive in the remote wilderness alone, reflects some of Paulsen’s real life experiences when he used to answer emergency calls and deal with many heart attack victims (Paulsen 2). The plane crash in Hatchet was also created by Paulsen after he was on the scene of a plane crash were the pilots died (Paulsen 7). Gary Paulsen’s experiences from living alone in the Minnesota woods to racing dogs in the Iditarod race has been exposed and reflected in a majority his writings.
Gary Paulsen born May 17, 1939 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Pendergast) was the third child of Oscar Paulsen who was an army officer and Eunice Paulsen (Pendergast). Paulsen would live nine years before he met his father for the first time as his father was in the army and spent a lot of time away from home during World War II (Pendergast). His father was an alcoholic and he got into many heated arguments with his father during his childhood but no child abuse has been reflected in his literature (Trelease). On the other hand Paulsen’s mother worked in munitions factories during much of his childhood which made Paulsen stay with his aunt or grandma often (Trelease). In Paulsen’s novel Harris and Me the main character has parents who are alcoholics and he moves from family to family, this is most likely based off Paulsen’s experiences as a child within his own family (Cornett). Paulsen also moved around a lot since his father was in the military and describes himself as a child as a “ military brat “ (Trelease). “ School was a nightmare because I was unbelievably shy, and terrible at sports. I had no friends and teachers ridiculed me “ said Paulsen when speaking on his experience in High School (Trelease). When Paulsen grew older and graduated high school he attended Bemidji College from 1957-58 and University of Colorado 1976 (Trelease).
Gary Paulsen’s first taste for adventure in the wilderness came when he was fourteen and ran away from home and joined the carnival (Pendergast). In one of Paulsen’s most popular novels, Hatchet the main character Brian gets attacked by a moose, This is reflected from Paulsen’s experience of when he was hunting with a rifle and came across a family of moose and the male moose attacked him (Paulsen 31). This experience was very memorable for Paulsen and was significant enough that he wrote about it in one of his non-fiction novels. Also in Hatchet Brian crafts his own bow and...