Touching Spirit Bear

written by Ben Mikaelsen; a report by Jacob Shelton

Characterization of…well, the characters

In Touching Spirit Bear, there are 4 key characters/protagonists. The first is Cole, the main protagonist. Cole Mathews is a young boy at war with not only the world, but himself as well. Throughout the book Cole slowly changes into a wise, young boy, thanks to a mysterious white bear known as the Spirit Bear. He eventually helps the people around him and loses the anger that had controlled him before. Next is Garvey, a man with Tlingit flowing through his blood, determined to help Cole change into a better person. Also is Edwin, a Tlingit elder who went through the same cold-heartedness as Cole did, and also faced Circle Justice. And last, but definitely not least, is Peter Driscal, also a young boy who was brutally abused by Peter at school and suffered serious cranial damage, and eventually is helped by Cole.

I am

I am Cole Matthews.

I am ferocious and hot-tempered

I wonder about the world

I hear the baby birds chirping

I see the Spirit Bear

I want to be feared

I am Cole Matthews.


I pretend to be a wolf

I feel the anger lingering

I touch the soft sand

I worry about Peter

I cry about Peter

I am Cole Matthews.


I understand the world now

I say that the Spirit Bear is real

I dream about the Spirit Bear

I try to help Peter

I hope that I can become a friend to Peter

I am Cole Matthews.


  1. Symbolism: Cole's emotions. Cole's emotions are connected to the weather in many ways. When he is angry, there is a storm. Calm, a soft drizzle. Sad, a downpour. Happy, it's sunny. Explanation: Cole is connected to nature in various ways, eventually shown by the Spirit Bear.
  2. Symbolism: the book title. On the title page, the words Touching Spirit Bear are on 3 different lines. Coincidence? I think not. This means that there are a variety of word combinations. Like Touching Spirit, for example. This shows that Cole's spirit will be touched, as the Spirit bear does so. Explanation: This shows that Cole will experience change throughout the book.
  3. Motif: the at.oow(sorry, the accented "o" command would not work.) This is a reoccurring subject throughout the book, representing trust, tradition and shelter. Explanation: although the at.oow was given as a gift, Cole tries to get rid of it because he is not used to anything it represents.
  4. Motif: the baby birds. This is a reoccurring and very important subject in the book. The baby birds are first mentioned with malice by Cole, then when they die it changes to sorrow and sadness, and eventually envy. Explanation: the birds had stuff Cole didn't have: a loving mother and home.
  5. Motif: probably the most important subject in the book, circles are an infinitely(get it? Because circles are infinite?)reoccurring subject in the book. And as long as you have read at least one page in the book, you would know the importance of circles. Circle of trust. Circle of life. Circle Justice. The Circle on the Totem Pole. Full Circle ending. Explanation: circles have no beginning or end, and represent life as well.