Cole Matthews!

Infamous Child Criminal Changed By Nature?

Cole Himself

Cole Matthews has never been close friends with the law. Cole has stepped on it, spat at it, and had broken it. Many. Many. Times. “He was an innocent looking baby-faced fifteen-year-old from Minneapolis who had been in trouble with the law half his life,” (5 Mikaelsen). But he messed up big time. He was able to get out of anything too bad with the help of his father’s expensive lawyers, but this was inexcusable, he bashed the head of another student into the pavement, causing severe and permanent brain damage, as well as making him suicidal. According to Edwin, Peter tried to kill himself because he felt like nobody cared about him. He couldn’t walk straight anymore, he got his words slurred and he talked weird. In any other circumstance Cole would’ve just let that wash over him. The things that the Island, Bear, and his anger on the island taught him showed him that he wouldn’t get off that easy. He felt the guilt that he should have felt as he got revenge on Peter for telling a teacher he robbed a store. He wanted to- no, had to help Peter heal if he was going to heal. And thus started the reformation of Cole Matthews.

The Sparrows

The baby sparrows are a large factor of Cole’s reformation. When he first sees them alive and well with their mother, Cole gets mad. His mother had never cared for him like the bird did. Why didn’t he have that? He wanted the sparrows dead. “The sight of the baby birds irritated Cole. Without his injuries he could have easily crawled up and knocked the nest down. That's what the stupid birds deserve.” This moment from page 75 shows how Cole is jealous of the baby birds, and how they have their mother with them, caring for them, and loving them. He never got that as a child. He got his dad’s belt and his mom’s lack of support. “As Cole stared at the tiny bodies, sadness flooded through him. The sparrows were so frail, helpless, and innocent. They hadn't deserved to die.” This quote from page 82 shows how when he sees the sparrows in the beginning he wanted them to die. He didn’t like how they had someone to care for him, when he never did. But now that they are dead, he feels sad. He realizes that they’re all helpless little creatures who can’t do anything for themselves.

The Island

One of the many factors of nature that effected Cole was the Island he was on. After being mauled by the Spirit Bear, Cole was lying there, on the ground, half dead, and the island was unforgiving. There were bugs that might as well have been eating him alive, small animals with the same purpose as the bugs, and worst of all, the cold rain. Cole would have usually gotten out of everything he did scott-free. But on the island, that isn’t how it works. Everything you do there has a consequence, which are often times bigger and more hard-hitting than the ones Minneapolis could provide. Burning the shelter, you get rained on, and freeze. Try to escape, high tides will keep you, and you’ll be tired. Try to kill the Spirit Bear, get mauled, and left to die. The island wasn’t just this place of pain, suffering, and misery. The island was also a place that provided peace, “Gradually he quit hugging his chest and let his arms drift out and away from his body until they hung suspended in the water. Cole found that if he sat completely still, actually felt warm. He breathed deliberately, imagining himself as calm as the pond.” This quote from pages 163 to 164 show how calm and at peace Cole feels in the cold pond. This mindset is usually seen in spiritually awakened people. Monks, Shamans, Priests, etcetera. But Cole isn’t a Monk, Shaman, or Priest. He is angry, and sad, and confused; Yet somehow he was able to achieve that state of meditation. Its because of the island itself, the islands quiet, peace, and beauty. There isn’t anything to distract him from healing, because everything on the island is helping him heal. The only thing in between him and healing is himself. Everyone and everything on the island is aware of that, except for Cole.

Spirit Bear

Thing that knows understands that Cole is his own block in healing, best, would be the Spirit Bear. The huge white bear struck Cole down in more ways than one. Spirit Bear seemed to have a more than base understanding of Cole, what’s wrong with him, and how he could help him heal. By permanently messing up the use of his limbs to teach him that his aggression was unneeded, unwanted, and unappreciated. He only left Cole alone after he begged for the bears mercy. Making it seem as though the bear actually knew what Cole was saying. “... Cole screamed, ‘No! No more!’ but his words came out as hoarse grunts… With a lazy shuffle, it turned away and wandered down the shoreline,” This quote from page 66 shows how the spirit bear made Cole actually submit to him, and ask for mercy for attacking him. He made it feel the same way as when Cole bashed Peter’s head into the pavement. The spirit bear, like the island taught him something too, the same thing as the island in fact, that his actions have consequences. But, like the island, the spirit bear also is a source of calm and peace for Cole. “Remembered the white hair and the gentle eyes, black orbs that peered patiently at him through the dark. Remembering those eyes brought Cole a certain calm.” That quote from page 116 really does show the effect spirit bear had on Cole. Making him think of how his eyes were calm, how they were patient, how they were ever peering into the darkness, waiting.

Cole In The End

In the end, Cole has changed a lot. He learned how to ‘ignore’ his anger and how to prevent himself from exploding. Many, many examples of his change come from when he was in the island with Peter. “‘You do care,’ Cole said, shielding his face, ‘I’m not ever going to hurt you again. Can’t you see that’” This quote from page 236 shows how Cole is done with his anger, and with having nobody trust him because he was a liar, in fact on page 112 he thought, “Beginning today, he would tell the truth. This words would become his only proof,” to have such a determined mindset is very good to have when you originally lived your life as a lying ‘baby-faced con’. Cole, at that moment, truly took the first steps to becoming a better person. By the end of the book, he wasn't perfect, he still had his anger bubble up more often than he’d like, but he was getting better at understanding his own anger, and his own feelings.