Touching Spirit Bear

By Angie Cheng

All About Me

Cole Matthews. A fifteen year old boy who lives in Minneapolis. He might seem like a regular boy at a glance, but inside is built up hatred against everyone and he always finds a way to hate them. Cole hates his mom. He hates his dad. He even hates an innocent boy at his school, Peter Driscal. His built up hatred for everyone and everything causes him to do many horrible actions without much thought and because of this Cole has become very manipulative. He is constantly using people to get what he wants but when he is sent to an isolated, Alaskan island “...manipulating a storm or lying to your hunger…”(57) might not seem so easy anymore. Even though his careless actions get Cole into a lot of trouble he does not confess that it does. Cole blames others for the problems he gets himself into and thinks that others will get him out of them: “Cole couldn’t believe his parents were letting this happen to him...He hated his parents,” (9). He thinks that other people always get him into trouble, such as, when he beat up Peter Driscal. All Cole thought was if Peter didn’t rat me out on trashing and stealing in a store then he would of never been beat up and I wouldn’t have to join the Circle Justice and go to a stupid island. Cole Matthews may be far from being the best young boy out there but can do just about anything he puts his mind to, even if it is not the best thing to do.

Spirit Bear

During his stay in the Alaskan island, Cole sees the spirit bear. Before Cole got to the island, he was told about the spirit bear and said if he encountered it he would kill it. He saw the bear many times and became angry and angrier that it was not afraid of him. One day, the bear appeared and Cole couldn’t stand the bear anymore. He tried to kill the spirit bear, however, he was left beaten up and unable to move in the end. His inability to move gave him time to think. On the edge of death, he learned that the bear had defined him and he hated how it did. Cole later realized that, “Animals can teach us more about ourselves than any teacher,” (17). Cole figured out that everything that defined him, he immediately hated. He hated when someone wasn’t afraid of him which made him lose power over that person. During this deathly experience Cole changed. “People change in two different ways- with a slow persistent pressure, or with a sudden traumatic experience,” (128). Cole started to change after the sudden traumatic experience of being mauled by a bear. He learned that there should be a meaning of living life and that for all these years he had been hurting people, whether it was stealing their belongings or beating them up. Cole realized that he had to change himself and stop hurting others or else he didn’t have a meaning for his life.

Baby Sparrows

While half paralyzed, Cole saw baby sparrows high up in a tree being fed food from their mom. He envied those birds who had parents who helped them. While constantly staring at the sparrows he realized how they had so much beauty. Later he looked at the nature around him, all the trees, plants, and grass and realized there was so much beauty to nature. Cole asked himself, “How much beauty had he missed in his lifetime? How much had he destroyed?” (97). After he started seeing the beauty in other living things and being on the verge of death, he learned more and more about life. While Cole couldn’t move a very fierce and strong storm hit. For long periods of time there was strong rains and winds. In the end much of the land and trees were destroyed and different. He saw dead baby sparrows that had fallen out of the tree during the storm and learned the importance to live life with a purpose. Whenever, he was close to death and need energy by eating disgusting foods, he reminded himself of the baby sparrows and remembered how fast life could change. One day Cole caught a mouse and forced himself to think of the baby sparrows while eating: “...he forced himself to again imagine a baby sparrow with an open beak. Food was energy, and energy was life,” (89). The baby sparrows taught Cole the importance of living life with a purpose and to the fullest and it opened his eyes to the beauty of nature.


While on the island both Cole and Peter had changed, the roles had been switched. Instead of Cole beating up Peter, Peter was beating up Cole. Cole learned after that every end is also a beginning for something new. Just like a circle: “...every part of a circle is both an end and a beginning...And everything is one,” (240). This shows that after Cole beating Peter up was the beginning of change in both of them, Cole started to heal and control his anger while Peter started to build anger inside him. This then started a new beginning in the circle. Cole also learned that healing is also a circle. You have caused harm on someone else, and to heal yourself must help heal them and they must forgive you.One example is in the Circle Justice: “you’ve caused my cat and me harm, by doing something for me and for another cat, you can help make things right again,” (11). Everything in life is a circle and every event in life could be the beginning or the end or a new one.