Touching Spirit Bear
(Book by Ben Mikaelsen) Article by London Kasper
Garvey: Garvey is Cole's parole officer, and a native American of the Tlingit tribe. He suggests that Cole tries Circle Justice and is always there for him.
Edwin: Edwin is a Tlingit elder, and a part of the Inner Circle in Circle Justice. Edwin becomes a very important character in the second part of the book, teaching Cole how to control his anger.
Peter: Peter is the boy that Cole attacked. He receives brain damage and physical harm from Cole's anger. He is afraid of Cole but eventually has to live with him.
Cole is mauled by a spirit bear during his time on the island, receiving terrible injuries and almost dying.
Fire is an example of symbolism in the book, reflecting Cole's burning anger and hatred. Cole eventually has to learn to control this flame.
Garvey teaches Cole to retreat to the pond every morning to clear his mind. Cole rejects the idea at first, being afraid of the cold temperatures. He soon starts soaking in it every day.
- Fire symbolizes Cole's anger. This is repeatedly used throughout the entire book.
- The feather held during Circle Justice represents respect and responsibility.
- The Spirit Bear represents trust. The Spirit Bear trusted that Cole would not harm it.
- The Totem Pole represents new knowledge about the world around you and tradition. (Totems are an old tradition of natives, and the animals are important symbols of specific traits to Cole.)
- The Ancestor Rock represents anger and tradition. Cole carries it up the slope every day and then rolls it away.
"Think of how much your arm and hip still hurt. Wounds of the spirit heal even slower."
I Am Cole Matthews
I am living on and island, and I am carving on my totem.
I wonder how I can get Peter to forgive me.
I hear a fish flopping.
I see a whale swimming.
I want Peter to change his mind.
I am Cole Matthews
I pretend that my arm doesn't hurt.
I feel upset.
I touch the cold surface of my sitting rock.
I worry that Peter will hate me.
I cry for Peter and my mother.
I am Cole Matthews.
I understand that people don't choose to be angry.
I say that I saw a Spirit Bear.
I dream about that fateful night when I was mauled.
I try to keep my anger under control.
I hope that my mom gets custody.
I am Cole Matthews.
- "Cold Small Pond in an Autumn Forest in Canada | Stock Photo | Colourbox." Colourbox. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
- "Burning Forest Wallpaper." BURNING FOREST WALLPAPER. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
- "Spirit of the Great Bear Rainforest." The Canadian Nature Photographer. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.