Guts by: Gary Paulsen
If I could rename this book, I would probably call it Close Calls because Gary Paulsen, the main character, has survived countless dangerous situations that should have ended with his death. The main setting, where most of those incidents have occurred, is the woods of Minnesota and occasionally Alaska. To me, it feels that Paulsen is just as amazed at his multiple survivals as his readers will be. There’s also a sort of pride that he seems to take in his knowledge of the potential threats of the wilderness and also his creation of the character Brian in many of his other novels. To me, his knowledge was the only reason why he hasn’t continued to have many dangerous altercations anymore, so I feel that that is the theme.
Sequence of Events Timeline
1946: Witnesses a C-54 full of passengers crash; some passengers are killed by sharks
He and a friend were attacked by a swarm of deerflies
Cow attacks Paulsen and injures his dogs
Built his first bow
Passenger jet’s engine stops
Plane crashes in Denver
Witnessed a 3-year-old boy get stabbed by a white-tailed deer
Was bitten by a swarm of mosquitoes
Harsh weather conditions make Paulsen end a sled race
Attacked by a Moose in Minnesota
Killed his first game
Man dies from Heart Attack
Cow tips Paulsen’s canoe
Conflict and Resolution
Throughout this entire novel, Gary Paulsen has been through nothing but conflicts. They vary in severity, but they are all Man vs. Nature. On multiple occasions, Paulsen has found himself victim of the jokes and threats of Mother Nature. From being charged by Moose to confrontations with Bears and witnessing traumatic events, he’s seen all there is, and has, miraculously, survived.
Even as a child, Paulsen faced many difficulties. He was forced to provide for himself, seeing as his parents weren’t the most responsible in the world. He learned to hunt on his own, how to live off of the land provided so he could feed himself. Most people couldn’t go through the things he has and survive, let alone escape with a cut or two.
For example, one part of the story that had me amazed was one of the major altercations he’d had with a Cow. He’d been sledding with his dogs when he had taken his eyes off of the trail for a mere moment. Within those few seconds, a Cow appeared on the trail and tackled him from the sled. As he was on the ground, it began stomping him over and over, attempting to kill him. He had even tried to hold his breath so that it would assume he was dead, but the second the Cow heard him breathing again, she continued stomping him. He claimed that she continued for what felt like hours until she felt sure that he was as good as dead, yet he survived! And not only that, but he also killed it with a gun that he had borrowed from a friend of his. I found that to be the climax of the story.
Gary Paulsen is the main character of this story; therefore, I will be analyzing him physically and personality-wise. To me, Paulsen seems to be very willful. He has faced death and danger numerous times, yet his body refuses to give in. He continues living, even when it seemed as though there was no way he should have been able to. I think this makes him the kind of person you can look up to. To me, Paulsen also seems to learn the hard way, through experience. His knowledge of the dangers of wildlife and such was limited to what he’d learned as a boy, therefore he didn’t know about many of the potential threats that he’d been hunting among. He even said himself that he only gained as much knowledge as he has due to first-hand experience. That must mean that he’s a quick learner; then again, once you’ve been bitten, charged, and almost killed a few times, you tend to pick up on...
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