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Touching Spirit Bear
Transcript of Touching Spirit Bear
: Dynamic Cole is a 15 year old juvenile delinquent from Minneapolis. In the beginning, he is abused and has many issues. But he changes all because of the Circle Justice and the island. In the end he learns to control his anger and not to blame anyone for his actions, he learns to forgive.
: Static Through the whole story Coles' father is abusive and a drunk. He tries to help Cole with his money but not his heart. At one point in the story he can't even tell Garvey and Edwin his own sons birthday!
: Dynamic In the beginning when he gets brutally beaten by Cole, Peter is severely injured and is depressed. Later on he tries to kill himself and fails. He then goes to live on the island with Cole and changes to being happier and even in the end becoming friends with Cole.
: Static Garvey is a Parole Officer and through the whole story is dedicated to helping Cole through his rough times. He is compassionate and believes that he can help, Him and Edwin are the two people that truly help Cole. He was in trouble in his youth too and wants to turn Cole's life around like he did his.
: Static: Edwin is a Tlingit elder who wants Cole to improve his ways. He went to the island in his youth as well. He believes in the Circle Justice and knows that it can help Cole if he is willing. He shows Cole how to take care of the anger.
Touching Spirit Bear
Point of View
The Author of
Touching Spirit Bear
, Ben Mikaelsen was born in 1952 in La Paz Bolivia. He moved to the United States in 7th grade. He has lived in Montana for 21 years. Ben has been writing professionally for 16 years. His first published book was
What connects the author to the book is him owning a huge black bear and where he has lived and traveled over the years.
I believe the book is written in third person point of view because it says things like: he, they, and their.
"He sucked in the deepest breath he dared. He was spitting at more than the spirit bear. He was spitting at his life. The world would take him to the the grave with a slimy goober on its face. Cole Matthews would have the last word." The narrator gives us insight on Cole's feelings of anger and self loathing. He shows us how weak and vulnerable he is. But at the same time you can see that he is beginning to understand the power of nature.
I think if the story was told in first person it might even be better. Cole would describe his own feelings and make you feel like you are right there with him.
The book begins with Cole being taken to an island off of the coast of southeast Alaska.
The author is very descriptive with the setting and how Cole is feeling and thinking. You can feel his anger.
He is beginning a one year punishment called Circle Justice. This is a Native American method of justice.
He was given this sentence as a last chance at redemption versus going to prison.
He came from a troubled family even though they were always there with their money and lawyers to get him out of trouble they couldn't this time.
He hates and blames everyone for his trouble, he feels like everyone is just always trying to get rid of him.
He will be isolated from any type of society, left to finally deal with his anger and his own life on the island. It is hard to say what time period the story takes places in but different things made me think present day.
The reason I chose this background is because Cole had to cross the chasm of anger and blame. Once he crossed it he had to climb the mountain of guilt that he had to overcome then only after all that could he be at peace with himself and others.
By: Ben Mikaelsenn
Author Info And Connections
The story starts in Minneapolis, Minnesota with Cole, a 15 year old juvenile delinquent.
His father beats him while his mother does nothing about it his whole life.
A boy named Peter heard about Cole breaking into a hardware store so he seeks vengeance on Peter by beating him senseless.
After already being sent to jail and having therapy he realizes that this is the final straw.
They try to charge Cole as an adult and give him a prison sentence. He tries to find an alternative sentence or any way to shorten his time just because he is selfish.
Garvey tells Cole he should try a native american method called Circle Justice.
He is sentenced by the Circle Justice to a one year banishment on an island in Alaska.
As they drop Cole off on the island Edwin is giving Cole advice on how to live within the circle of life.
He talks about a spirit bear, "it's pure white and has pride, dignity, and honor. More than most people."
Cole said, "If I saw a Spirit Bear, I'd kill it!"
Edwin reminded Cole that whatever you do to the animals you do to yourself.
After the elders leave Cole, he grows very angry with his situation. Again he feels like everyone is just happy to be rid of him so the first thing he does is destroy the shelter they had built for him.
This banishment was the ultimate hurt for Cole, "this was the hurt of being alone and unwanted"
Cole sees something in the distance, it is the Spirit Bear, he is going to teach it to fear him!
He taunts the bear with rocks on several occassions; but it doesn't flinch
Cole then tries to swim away from the island. He keeps trying but he can't fight the tide.
Cole decides he must kill the bear with his handmade spear, the bear finally charges him.
The bear broke his ribs, an arm and a pelvis, but the bear leaves him alive.
Cole is unable to move above him he sees a nest of sparrows, a mother and babies, he hates them it reminds him of his life.
A storm comes during the night and destroys the tree and the nest, he actually feels some sympathy for the baby sparrows.
The bear returns twice but does not attack him, that's when Cole understands that he was just defending himself and was not trying to hurt him.
He is starting to understand he realizes his life has been nothing; he really wants to be part of the cycle of nature but he thinks his desire for life may be too late now.
Cole is rescued from the island by Garvey and Edwin.
He has physical therapy for six months.
He goes in front of the council again, he begs them to give him another chance that he really does want to change.
He convinces them to let him go back to the island, the elders take him and begin to teach him spiritual ways.
During Cole's healing he decides that Peter should join him so they can heal together.
Personification: Pg. 69 Par. 1 "The squawking of the gulls over the bay echoed like hollow laughter." This is personification because it gives human-like character to the seagulls.
Imagery: Pg. 42 Par. 3 " There he lay spent and shivering, his body bruised, his cold skull throbbing in rhythm with his heartbeat." This is a good example of imagery because of the detail that it gives you can really almost feel it yourself!
Hyperbole: Pg. 71 Par. 4 "Waves of pain wracked Coles body. With each agonizing wave, he bit his lip and whimpered, trying not to cry out." I think he really must of been in bad pain but this is a good example of hyperbole because of the way it is described with exaggeration.
Metaphor: Pg. 94 Par. 2 & 3"Cole imagined he was a baby bird in a nest. Around him, a storm raged and the trees swayed violently." "Frantic, Cole struggled to fly, but he couldn't escape the nest. All he could do was open his beak wide and raise it upward toward the sky, the action a simple admission that he was powerless." An example of a metaphor because it says you are something. Gives a verbal picture by use of a comparison to something.
I felt like there were three major themes to this book. Anger, Nature and the Circle of Life. Most of the book is Cole dealing with his anger. He has to learn why he is angry, I think mostly because of his father beating him. But when he says he wants to get rid of it Edwin teaches him that "anger will always remain" but you have to learn how to use it differently. Cole learns how to use his anger and not let it control him. The book is also about nature and the comparison to all things. The biggest symbol I got from this was the Spirit Bear, it was meant to be the symbol of nature's justice. Once Cole understood why the bear attacked him he began to heal, not his body, but his sole. And last the Circle of Life, it is about the connection between humans and nature. And how all things must be in sinc to form the complete circle. Cole understands that anger and happiness are connected, but more about how you choose to use that anger will determine how the circle is completed.
I believe the authors tone is full of anger and blame in the beginning, at least until Cole gets sent back to the island for the second time. But then it starts to change like the main character, Cole. You start feeling forgiveness and I think that is what the author expected you to feel. It really is what causes Cole to be able to move on with his life and to feel worthy of living. He was able to forgive himself and the others in his life and the author's tone has you feeling those emotions. " My dad has beaten me my whole life." "But I know now he never meant to hurt me." "I learned to forgive." "Not just others, but also myself."
I felt angry, sad and forgiving. I felt sorry for Cole, even though he made the wrong choices he really did not know how to be anything but angry and that is what made him get into trouble. He didn't know how to deal with his feelings about his life and his family. But at the same time I was angry too, mostly at his dad and the way he treated him his whole life, he didn't even know when his birthday was. "When my dad uses a belt on me, I know he is trying to hurt me." But towards the end of the book I really felt like Edwin and Garvey were there for Cole and I wanted him to forgive himself for the anger that he had lived his 15 years of life with so he could move on.
My overall response to this book was that I really liked the whole plot in general and the storyline behind why Cole was so angry.
I found the book moving because I never knew how one could forgive somebody like Peter did for Cole and how they helped each other in the end and how it relates to the circle of life.