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Touching Spirit Bear
Transcript of Touching Spirit Bear
Poster Project by Austin Richard
Ben Mikaelsen born December 8, 1952. Born in Bolivia, he wasn't sent to school until the fourth grade where he was heavily bullied for his race. Some years later, Mikaelsen moved with his family to the United States where he entered the seventh grade. He began writing full time in 1984, and has won many awards.He has also gained many state Readers Choice Awards. He is a sky diving champion, can fly a plane, taught himself to swim and dive, and has written many novels such as Tree Girl, Touching Spirit Bear, Ghost of Spirit Bear and Petey. Mikaelsen owned a male American Black Bear named Buffy for 26 years until his death on September 1, 2010. Mikaelsen considered Buffy a "750-pound member of my family." Today, Mikaelsen lives outside Bozeman, Montana with his wife and kids. He has been writing books for 26 years He also visted schools like Glenn Westlake school in Lombard.
All About The Author
Cole is a fifteen-year old convicted juvenile delinquent from Minneapolis. In frustration and while drunk, his father often beats him while his mother rarely defends him. Cole initially shows no remorse for his actions, no intentions of changing his ways, and harbors a deep anger at the world and particularly at his parents. Cole was sent to circle justice for his actions on Peter Driscal, Cole had assaulted him to the point where Peter needed severe medical attention, the circle justice members had sent him to the island near Drake. Cole could only trust people that were afraid of him so when the Spirit Bear wouldn't back off that made Cole angry, Cole tried to attack the bear but did not succeed, the bear had stomped his head in and tore up his flesh and left his right arm almost impaired. Cole had almost gave up on life but when he saw the baby birds trying to get back to their nest after the lightning and knocked the tree over, Cole found a will to live and Garvey and Edwin saved him and took him back to Drake to heal him. The second time Cole was sent to the island you could almost instantly see he had change, he was listening to Edwin and Garvey, he was not acting up and getting angry, he was doing things for others. The attack really showed him a new way of life, he no longer wanted to harm people he was talking with his mother and he even wanted to help Peter out after Cole found out Peter was trying to end his life because of Cole's action. Cole also didn't want to keep lying and proving him self, if people believed him then great but if they didn't it doesn't matter and you could tell this when he threw out the white chunk of hair.
Garvey works in the juvenile justice system, and he has focused his efforts on helping Cole out of his difficult situation. He had his own run-ins with the law back in his youth, and he is determined to help other youth stop ruining their lives. He is the first one to propose that Cole go through Circle Justice, and he even comes in to the juvenile detention center on weekends to talk to Cole and help him through difficult times, even though Cole initially shows him no respect or appreciation.
Edwin is a Tlingit Indian from Drake, Alaska who is brought in to help Cole through his time of banishment on an island by the Tlingit village of Drake. In his youth, he was banished to the same island as Cole for a year, and he truly wants to help Cole in his path to healing. He often speaks in metaphor, using nature imagery, and he teaches Cole different Indian dances and routines on the island that help him through the difficult times.
Cole's father seems at first to be very generous in trying to help his son, but then you find out is is the bad guy in this book When he gets drunk, he used to beat Cole and this experience was central to Cole's own anger and violence. Recently, he and Cole's mother get a divorced. Cole's father scared Cole's mother so much when he was drunk that she was to afraid to stand up for her son. After Mr.Matthews was arrested Cole's mother started reconnecting with her son.
Cole's mother is extremely frightened of her husband and it is from obvious once you get into the later chapters, even though they have recently divorced. After Cole's father got arrested Cole's mother started opening up to her son, in the second part of the book when Cole got sent to the island again she would write letters asking how her son was almost everyday
Ben and Buffy
Peter is a young fifteen-year-old who was badly beaten up by Cole. Since Cole went as far as smashing his head repeatedly against the sidewalk, Peter's injuries have left him with a speech problem and vivid nightmares. He is shy, quiet, and terrified of Cole's presence after that moment forward. He too harbors anger, but it is directed against Cole. The reader comes to know Peter and his own path to healing in the second half of the book, as Cole comes to see that their two paths of forgiveness and healing are intertwined. After Peter tried ending his life for the second time Cole invited Peter to the island so both boys could heal together. After Cole had showed Peter the totem poles Peter took an interest in the art and got really good at it. Cole also showed Peter the soaking in the pond and carrying up the ancestor rock up the hill and rolling away his anger, but Peter a big fan of that. One evening Peter told Gavey to stay back and let the two boys go for a walk, Peter did that so he could get pay back on Cole for all the evil he had caused him, Peter hit Cole and pushed him down and yelled at Cole to hit him back but Cole wouldn't because he was a changed man.
Mr and Mrs Driscal
Peter's parents are present at the circles and are portrayed as distraught about their son's condition following the beating. They fear that Cole will be released again and come to attack their son, and so they are opposed to any type of Circle Justice that would make Cole a threat to others. In the last few chapters of the book, they take on a bigger role and are portrayed as truly desperate in their search to find healing for their son Peter. Mr and Mrs Driscal lives were drastically alterted after Cole's misfortunes but I think if there was a sequal to this book I think their lives would be a little better because of what Cole and Peter went through at the ending of this book.
Rosey is the nurse in Drake that heels Cole after his incounter with spirit bear she doesn't really have a big role in this book.
Although an animal, the Spirit Bear is a truly central character in this novel. Hardly a chapter goes by without a mention of him. His presence on the island is almost mythical since Spirit Bears are supposed to live somewhere southeast of the island. However, Cole repeatedly sees the bear in his first few days on the island. When he assaults the Spirit Bear, it violently retaliates against Cole. While the figure assumes a highly symbolic role, its real existence as a formidable beast to be reckoned with is a strong counter to Cole's own pride and anger. Spirit Bear is a special kind of character because he is both the protagonist and the antagonist, he is the protagonist because he was part of the reason why Cole began to change the way he looks at life and hes the antagonist because he assaulted Cole to the point where he almost lost his whole right arm.
The Initial Incident is when Cole assaults Peter in the opening chapters of the book, Peter had ratted Cole out for breaking into a hardware store and stealing supplies. Later on you learn the reason Cole did this was because he was angry and the reason he was angry was because he father had beat him when he was drunk and his father got it from his father
The turning point of the story was when Cole was attacked by Spirit bear, while Cole laid there waiting for death to take him but when Cole spotted the two baby birds trying to get back to their mother and their nest after their tree tumbled to the ground during the lightning storm Cole had a moral dilemma and fought to stay alive long enough for Edwin and Garvey to save him and take him to Rosey
In the end Cole and Peter make up, they solve their differences and all it took was a little violence and spotting spirit bear together, the end of the book isn't really good it kind of seems like the author rushes to finish because the story just ends them friends it doesn't really give much details
After Cole found out Peter attempted to kill himself twice because of his actions Cole had the idea of bring Cole to the island with him at first Garvey thought it was a terrible idea and Peter would never be on board with it but he brought it up in one of the circle meeting and the decision was to bring Peter to the island with Cole. Cole showed Peter how to do all the stuff he had been doing that Edwin showed him like Soaking in the pond, carrying the ancestor rock up the hill and pushing away his anger. He also showed Peter something he learned and started to enjoy, totem pole carving. He also showed Peter the dances Cole would do but Peter thought it was stupid and humiliating.
Justice & Circle justice
The author explores different means to achieve justice in this novel. While on the surface, this story is about the particular case of Cole Matthews and his own path to redemption, the author constantly makes comments on the current justice system's inadequacies and how alternative forms of justice could serve the criminals and society as a whole much better. Garvey, who works in the juvenile justice system, frequently comments how people go to prison for years, but they emerge unchanged.
This whole story is based on the idea of Circle Justice, after learning about it in this book i think it could work better then the justice system we use today going to jail most of the time will not work for hardcore criminals they need time to think and learn about their mistakes keeping a man locked up like a dog is not gonna do that their just going to come out even worse.
Power of Nature
Nature is a pervasive theme in Touching Spirit Bear. The wilderness island setting for Cole's banishment and the Indian traditions surrounding the place demonstrate the centrality of nature to understanding the environment, culture, and personal healing. Almost every chapter includes mention of a different animal, which either teaches Cole a lesson or is offered a symbol of greater hidden truths.
The author wants the reader to believe that nature indeed can reveal these hidden truths, and so the beaver becomes a symbol for patients and perseverance, the eagle becomes a symbol of strength and freedom, and the whale becomes a symbol of wandering and search for truth.
Most important, of course, is the presence of the Spirit Bear as a symbol of nature's justice. When Cole is mauled by the Spirit Bear after trying to attack it, his pride and his resistance to change are crushed and overwhelmed. He is incredibly humbled by this force of nature, and it is through this transformational process that he is able to heal and find a new path for his life.
The Circle of Life
The idea of Circle of life is a key part of everything in this book. You learn that everyone in this book is part of a big circle. Edwin and Garvey had made mistakes in their life and they helped Cole to a better future, Cole Helped Peter out because of the mistakes he made. Cole's father's father beat him so Cole's father beat Cole and Cole beat up Peter, another circle. The circle of life insists that all of life is a big circle, what goes around comes back around, karma, and good things happen to people who wait these are all examples of Circle of Life.
Anger and Revenge
Cole experiences major outbreaks of anger throughout the novel. He is typically described as very angry person and takes awhile to finally realize how to fix his problem. In Cole's own case, the anger comes from many different people. He comes to discover that much of his anger comes from being beaten by his father, and that his father's own anger is because his own father had beaten him.
Cole, however, declares that he wants to change, a notion that Edwin dismisses, saying that anger always will remain inside him but he can learn to control the anger. The persence of anger and one's need to deal with it and channel it into more beneficial emotions is again a crucial lesson that one learns from the book and a central point of analyzing the growth of each character.
As Cole grows less angry, he is able to devote himself more fully to helping others, such as Peter. He also witnesses how easy it is for the anger to build up inside of him again, such as when Peter begins to harass him on the island or when he thought about making a canoe to escape the island instead of a totem pole. By understanding the way in which Cole controlled his own anger, the author gives readers insight into this universal human emotion and both its negative consequences and positive possibilities.
The Role of Culture
Touching Spirit Bear presents a very different culture and way of viewing the world than is common for the typical American audience. The Native American traditions described within the book are quite unique in terms of their world view and their emphasis on the role of nature.
Cole, a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, experiences this shock quite vividly when he arrives to Drake and to the island. Edwin is the character who most represents the Native American tradition, even though Garvey also has Tlingit ancestry. Edwin's gift of the at.óow, a trust blanket, is an example of traditions that convey important meaning in a culturally contingent manner.
Further, many of the activities that Cole participates in during his second trip on his island such as carrying the "ancestor rock" and bathing in the freezing pond to clear the mind are methods that would not be found in traditional American culture. Mikaelsen tries to make the "meeting of cultures" a way for Cole to find truth and healing
The author develops the theme of healing across several different dimensions. First, on the purely physical level, the Spirit Bear's attack on Cole leaves Cole physically hurt and permanently weakened. This physical pain and arduous path to healing is analogous to the suffering that Peter previously endured at the hands of Cole. In many ways, both of these instances of physical suffering and subsequent healing make later personal and psychological healing possible.
Second, at the psychological or emotional level, healing occurs when anger subsides, when Cole forgives, and when Peter experiences relief from his depression. In fact, many of the characters in the book are portrayed as on a path of healing through this novel. Edwin and Garvey are trying to make up for their past offenses. Even Cole's mother begins to open up and get over her troubled marriage with Cole's dad.
Finally, healing in this novel occurs at the community level. While the goal of Circle Justice is to serve justice to Cole and have him grow personally, the entire community involved benefits. From sending Cole's father to jail for child abuse, to allowing Peter to come closer to forgiving Cole, all of these acts of justice and forgiveness allow the community in Minneapolis here depicted to emerge stronger than it was before.
Throughout Touching Spirit Bear, Cole is challenged to forgive and to earn forgiveness. Mikaelsen truly sees this as a central insight to bring justice and healing to communities. At several points in the novel, Cole has to explicitly forgive and be forgiven, climaxing of course with the final and most important forgiveness, between Cole and Peter. Once this final reconciliation occurs, the novel almost immediately ends because it brings together a slow process of allowing Cole to see the hurt that he has caused, to feel remorse, and then to make amends. The author very explicitly treats this theme in the way he structures the book, because these three steps are mirrored in the novel's plot. When Cole goes to the Circle for the first few times he sees the hurt he has caused in the community. Then, when he is attacked by the bear on the island, he is crushed by the remorse that he feels for all those who he had hurt. Finally, when he learns to forgive others and to try to help others recover from their own problems he make amends. These central questions guide the entire novel, and so it can be said that the novel is truly centered on forgiveness
Glossary of Terms
Edwin makes Cole carry this ancestor Rock up the hill every day he is there. The rock symbolizes all his ancestors before him.
Edwin tells Cole that he must dance the anger dance in order to fully heal his anger, but he must be ready for it. When Cole does dance it, he reenacts the attack of the Spirit Bear. He dances for longer than he ever had before and feels an immense sense of relief afterwards
Edwin gives this traditional Tlingit Indian blanket to Cole when he first arrives on the island. It symbolizes a bond of trust and friendship, and Cole is supposed to pass it on to someone he trusts after he learns what he needs from it. Cole chooses to give it to Peter at the end of the novel.
Cole sees a beaver in the freezing pond, and he does a beaver dance. From it, he learns how the beaver has "persistence, patience, and ingenuity" in order to build a dam all on its own.
This is a form of justice with roots in American native cultures that focuses on community deliberation and personal healing for the criminal, instead of mere punishment. See more about Circle Justice in "Additional Content."
A type of thorny plant. When Cole is mauled by the Spirit Bear, he grabs on to this plant and subsequently has a very painful set of thistles in his hand.
Small village where Edwin lives and where the Tlingit tribe is based. It is the place where Cole goes to receive attention from Nurse Rosey when he is injured by the bear, and it is the place from which Edwin, Garvey, and Cole take the skiff to go to the island.
Not the singer
Since eagles soar high above in the sky, Cole learns to stay strong and proud, while keeping a broad perspective from the Eagle Dance.
This refers to Cole's daily morning exercise of soaking in a freezing pond in order to clear his mind. Edwin instructs him to do this, saying that it helped him release his own anger when he was left alone on the island.
Cole learns that invisibility on the island does not mean going without being seen. It means not being sensed or heard. In this way, Cole and Peter are able to encounter the Spirit Bear again.
Term for the leader of the circles that comprise "Circle Justice."
This city in Alaska is the closest city to the island with an airport. Cole, Edwin, and Garvey fly there from Seattle on the first trip to the island. It is located in Southeastern Alaska near Canada's British Columbia Province.
The author uses this term to refer to the plane that evacuates medical emergencies in cases of severe trauma or in remote locations. Traditionally, this plane is called a "Medevac" plane, but the author uses an alternative spelling.
This city, in Minnesota, is Cole's hometown. In the beginning of the story, Cole flashes back from the island to Minneapolis to remember how he had gotten to the island, but in the second half of the book, he returns there to recover briefly before returning to the island again.
A type of small watercraft. It is used by Edwin and Garvey to transport supplies to Cole during his time on the island, and it is typical of a small craft used to transport between the small islands around Drake, Alaska.
The Spirit Bear is a species of black bear from British Columbia and parts of southeast Alaska. It is notable because it is completely white and larger than the average black bear. It has spiritual and cultural importance to certain tribes of Indians, including the Tlingit.
This is the name of Edwin's Indian tribe. The Tlingit Indian tribe is centered around Drake, Alaska, and Garvey is also a descendent of Tlingit Indians.
Cole finds a large fallen tree and decides to carve it into a totem pole. By the end of the novel, it has a series of engravings that represent Cole's journey and healing process. Totem Pole carving is a beautiful mixture of modern art and nature to make a master piece of a finish.
In this dance, Cole moves like a whale bobbing his head in and out of the water, and he learns that he is like the whales because he too does not have a good home and is searching for a reason to live.
Cole learns that he is much stronger in a pack than he is alone just like wolves in a wolf pack.
A flashback explains to the readers how Cole got to Alaska in the first place. A 15 year old boy from Minnesota, he had been in the juvenile justice system for a long time, and his rich and well-connected parents usually would bail him out of trouble with the law. Recently, however, Cole broke into a store, but when he bragged about it to one of his classmates, Peter Driscal, Peter turned him in. In revenge, Cole beat Peter up very badly, causing Peter head trauma and a permanent speech issue. Cole was taken back into juvenile detention. When Garvey, his juvenile parole officer, proposes that he choose Circle Justice instead of the possibility of being tried in an adult court, Cole immediately starts looking into the option.
The group of three including Cole,Edwin, and Garvey arrives on the island, and Edwin warns Cole that he could possibly die on the island if he doesn’t find food and keep warm in the winter. Cole seems calm and plans his escape immediately. He is first told of the Spirit Bear that roams in these areas, and Cole says that if he saw the Spirit Bear, he would kill it. Edwin gives Cole an "at.óow," a Tlingit Indian blanket that symbolizes trust and friendship.
As Edwin and Garvey leave, having set up the area for Cole, Cole begins to think about how he had to feign his remorse to Garvey and to the members of the circle in order to get approval for Circle Justice. When the scene flashes back to the island, Cole is covering the entire shelter his parents and Garvey had provided for him in gas. He then lights a match and burns the shelter, a symbol of any attachment to those who he felt didn’t really care about him. As he sees everything go up in flames, he realizes the error of his rash choice, he needed that to stay ali
As Cole sullenly stares into the burning flames, he begins to remember his relationship with Garvey. Cole explains to Garvey in this flashback scene how much he resents his parents, especially after their divorce. He reveals how they drink a lot and feel that nothing he does is good enough for them. When his father drinks, he hits Cole repeatedly and abuses him in a drunken rage. Back on the island, the fire is burning as brightly as ever, and Cole decides to swim to nearby islands in search of others who can give him a ride out of this wilderness.
Cole is still struggling to swim to another island in the freezing water. He recounts in his head the various circles that he had to participate in before heading off to the island. These include a “Healing Circle,” a “Circle of Justice,” a “Circle of Understanding,” and even a “Sentencing Circle.” Frustrated with so many circles, Cole protests to Garvey, who wisely responds, “Life is a circle.”
The bulk of the chapter describes the “Hearing Circle,” which was organized in the public library with the input of the entire community. It is an interesting event where community members come and hold hands in a type of prayer group in order to ask for Cole’s healing and justice. Each member holds a feather in turn to speak and then passes it on to others in the group. Present are community members interested in improving safety, Cole’s parents who are bewildered about his situation, and Peter Driscal—the boy who Cole beat up—who is particularly distraught. For the first time, it seems that Cole is questioning why he is there.
The scene returns from the flashback of the Healing Circle back to the scene of Cole swimming away from the shore. Cole realizes how futile his efforts are when he gets a leg cramp and notices that the incoming tide is pushing him back to the shore. His legs hit the rocky bottom of the shore as he is washed up, and he collapsed on the shore, in pain and without shelter.
As he struggles to get up, he sees a white bear: the Spirit Bear. He was intimidated by how fearless the bear was, and he even threw a rock at it to see if it would get scared. However, the bear remains motionless until it suddenly disappears. Strangely, in the remains of the fire, the at.óow remains, and Cole puts it over his shoulders. Cole keeps going over the scenes of the Circles back home with community members, and the chapter closes with a scene from one of the circles where Cole yells out publicly and in front of his parents that his father abuses him physically.
The flashback to his father and the circle continues, and all of the Circle Justice meetings continue to haunt him and cause him pain as he reflects on his current predicament on the island. Cole and his father have a very public argument about whether Cole has indeed been beaten. The Keeper, or leader of the circle, continues to insist that only the person with the feather may speak, and so she gives the feather to Cole to respond to his father’s comments. Cole insists that he has been abused, and he hands the feather to his mom so that she may confirm this fact. His mother, however, is too afraid to speak, and simply passes the feather on.
The scene moves on to Peter and his family. Peter’s family speaks of how Peter has speech and coordination problems and wakes up at night with vivid nightmares because of Cole’s attack. The three-hour Healing Circle ends, and Cole is escorted out of the room in handcuffs. On the way, Garvey asks Cole’s father what his son’s birthday is, and he doesn’t even remember.
Back on the island, Cole moves to a stream nearby for water and finds some hot coals, which he uses to fan a fire to keep him warm. Anger continues to bubble in his mind, as he remembers scenes of his father hitting him. One particular scene comes to mind—the only time his mother defended him. In it, Cole arrived late one night, and his father beat him with a belt, even with the metal portion of the belt. His mother weakly defends him, and his father threatens to beat her too.
Then Cole remembers how after the fifth circle, the solution had been proposed to send Cole somewhere far and isolated so that he could not hurt others. Garvey suggested his native land of Alaska, where there are many abandoned islands, and the members of the circle agree that banishment could be a good option.
The scene returns back completely to the island. Cole observes the orca whales just off the shore, and the Spirit Bear appears once more. Cole now prepares a sharpened branch as a spear along with his small knife for the next time the Spirit Bear appears. He has been on the island for one full day, and that night he has a very fitful sleep. He wakes up constantly fearing that the bear is near him, but the bear is nowhere to be found.
In the morning, he finds food by scaring away seagulls and stealing the fish that they had caught. Cole planned to try again to escape the island when the tide receded in the afternoon, but before he had the chance, he sees the Spirit Bear at the intersection of the stream and the bay. He rushes the bear and approaches it closely. He aims the spear at the Spirit Bear.
The action of Cole’s Spirit Bear encounter continues. Cole thrusts the spear towards the bear, but the animal easily deflects it. The bear easily strikes Cole over the head with a powerful blow. The bear bites into Cole’s thigh, scratches Cole’s chest, and lifts him over his head. As a final act of domination, the Bear places his paws on Cole’s chest and cracks his ribs. Then, the bear stands over Cole in the pouring rain, and Cole can only move his left arm and his head, unable to lift himself. Every other part of his body is broken and in pain. The bear slowly shifts away as seagulls a few steps away fight over torn pieces of Cole’s flesh. Cole realizes that the bear is the only thing that has ever been unafraid of him. A bloody bone protruded from his right arm, and his hand was stuffed with thistles from a Devil’s Club plant that he had grabbed while trying to escape the bear.
Cole, during this time, feels powerless and truly “imprisoned.” He contemplates death. He vomits up the fish he had for lunch and loses consciousness. He awakes to find himself barely alive, still immobilized, and more powerless and alone than he has ever felt before. He comments that even in jail, he had had some safety and comfort, but not so on this island.
Cole is still lying on the ground, having been mauled by the bear, but he begins to become more aware of his surroundings. He sees a nest with sparrows, and a mother sparrow is feeding her children. Cole is angered by this kind of affection shown between mother and offspring, and he feels more alone and uncared for than ever. In the freezing rain, Cole craves the at.óow blanket, but he cannot reach it.
During a nighttime thunderstorm, Cole again sights the Spirit Bear fifty feet away during a flash of lightning. In an instant, the bear disappears, but Cole fears that he will return to kill him. The storm continued to rage without the presence of the bear, and trees are split in two by lightning. The chapter ends with Cole realizing that the tree with the birds have been struck down by lightning, and he shows this first sign of compassion.
Cole continues to struggle for life on the ground following the mauling of the Spirit Bear. Cole’s embarrassment and weakness is further exposed when he cannot hold back his desire to defecate. He soils himself right where he is and has to sit in the midst of his own waste, immobilized. He looks out and sees that two of the sparrows from the tree have died. Cole makes the firm decision to live at this point, and attempts to try to feed himself with the grass around him. He also resorts to eating worms from the ground for sustenance. Mosquitoes swarm over his body, and he even catches a mouse as the chapter closes.
Cole continues to struggle to keep the mouse, and before it is dead, he pulls it to his mouth and starts chewing it until he crushes its skull with its teeth. He then proceeds to eat his own vomit—the fish from several days ago. The Spirit Bear appears once again, and Cole trembles with helplessness. The bear starts again walking towards Cole.
The bear mysteriously stops just short of Cole, and then he turns around and walks off into the distance. At this point, Cole becomes quite delusional and imagines himself as a bird in a nest, struggling to fly. Then, as he comes out of this delirium, he sees the Spirit Bear inches from his head, above him. Instead of trying to spit at him or yell at him, Cole instead decides to rub the bear’s shoulder and white fur coat, grabbing a tuft of white hair and putting it in his pocket. The bear does not attack, and there is a sense of trust between them.
Then, Cole sees the bear walk over to the stream and enter the water to swim away towards the bay. From that moment forward, Cole begins to appreciate the beauty of the scene around him, the plants, the seagulls, and the seals and other sea creatures. As Cole drifts away in pain and slumber, he hears voices around him as he is disoriented. It turns out that it is Edwin, who has brought him to his skiff and is taking him to safety to heal. Garvey also was there with him, calling him “Champ” as he always did. In the Drake nursing station, everyone was astounded that he had even survived, but Cole simply declares, “I am okay,” despite his horrible state.
Cole is with nurse Rosey in the city of Drake, but there is no medivac plane available to get Cole to a real hospital. Cole again had vivid dreams of his family and friends helping him but also taunting him for being so weak and helpless. Rosey and Garvey talk to Cole about the healing power of serving others, as Cole remains bewildered at why these two spend so much time helping him.
When the medivac plane arrives the next day, Edwin and Garvey ask Cole what happened on the island, and Edwin simply can’t believe that there was a real Spirit Bear on the island because normally they live hundreds of mile south of Drake. While Cole has the tuft of white hair in his jean pocket, he commits to telling the truth and asking the two men to trust him. When they are not looking, he throws away the white tufts of hair. The world will have to take Cole at his word from now on.
This chapter begins part two of the novel, and it is set six months after the date that the medivac plane took Cole to a hospital. Cole still had a lot of pain, and he had limited use of his right hand because of the bear attack. The reader learns that Cole’s father has been arrested and charged with child abuse for what he has done to Cole. Garvey and Cole’s mom are with him at the hospital as he is being led to the juvenile detention center.
Even though out of the hospital, Cole goes through months of physical therapy to regain even a little use of his limbs. Cole and his mother have a heart-warming reconciliation. She apologizes for not defending Cole against his father, and she says that she has stopped drinking. Cole comments that this is the first time that she has ever really opened up to him, and the two hug.
The scene changes to the Justice Circle, where almost all of the former members of the circle return—with the notable absence of Cole’s father and Peter’s family. The consensus of the members of the circle is that Cole broke his contract with the circle, so he should be returned to the criminal justice system. However, at that moment Edwin walks in, freshly arrived from Alaska.
The circle continues with Cole giving his explanation for why he acted as he did on the island, as everyone including Edwin sit in to listen. Cole is honest with the group and explains that he only went to the island to escape jail, and his mother then explains how she feels that he has truly changed. Edwin is the last to speak, and explains to the circle that Cole has at least had a change in direction if not a complete change of heart.
The crux of the decision lies on whether there was actually a Spirit Bear on the island, or if Cole is just lying again. Edwin declares that a group of fishermen claimed to see a Spirit Bear off of the island where Cole was stationed a day after Cole left the island. Still, this is not enough for the Keeper or Peter’s lawyer, so Cole is left to wait the final verdict on whether he will go to real jail or not. Over several weeks the Circle keeps meeting without Cole, and at the end of the chapter, Edwin and Garvey declare that they have secured Cole’s custody to return him to the island and try again for the process of healing.
Cole returns to Southeast Alaska. As per Edwin’s request, all of the costs of the trip are funded by selling Cole’s possessions such as his dirt bike and bicycle. This trip is truly his last chance, and he has sacrificed much for it. Edwin and Garvey agree to stay on the island for two days in order to give time for Cole to build the shelter.
When they ask him to prepare food for them, Cole hands them cold hot dogs. Edwin and Garvey then go into a speech about how “life is a hot dog.” Whereas Cole merely sees the hot dog as food, Garvey cuts the hot dog into three pieces, shares it, and makes many toasts and much merriment out of the occasion. The lesson of making the most out of very little is supposed to make Cole think about how he could make his time on the island a celebration.
The next day, Edwin and Garvey wake Cole up early after he has had a restless night without much sleep and with many dreams and anxieties. They go to the stream and Edwin declares that they will go swimming in a freezing pond to teach Cole a lesson. He makes Cole dip completely into the water shoulder-high and then asks him to break a stick, whose left side represents anger and right side represents happiness. The lesson implied is that if you focus on anger and try to break the left side off, a left side of the stick always remains. Edwin tells Cole how when he was banished to the island he would dip himself everyday in the freezing pond and try to focus on the happy end of the stick, not the angry end.
They go back to the camp and notice whales breaching off the shore. Cole set off to build his shelter all on his own without the help of Edwin or Garvey. Cole’s arms are blistered, and he resents how Edwin and Garvey make him do absolutely everything—from cooking, to washing the dishes. Since they had seen whales in the morning, Edwin insists that they do a whale dance. Edwin and Garvey, in turn, danced around the fire making whale-breaching motions with their head and arms. Cole reluctantly agrees and while dancing notices how whales migrate but do not have a home, and he feels understanding with them.
The next morning, they again go into the freezing pond for the anger exercise. Cole reluctantly agrees. Edwin then continues afterwards to take Cole to meet his “ancestors.” The exercise involves taking a large “ancestor rock” representing the ancestors up a slope, and Edwin tells Cole how these ancestors have many lessons to teach him.
The chapter again begins with an animal sighting as Edwin and Cole return from their morning lessons. This time, it is a wolf sighting. Garvey insists that this night they will do a “wolf dance.” The rest of the day is consumed by Cole constructing the shelter again, and he becomes irritated. In a fit of anger, Cole tells Edwin and Garvey that he won’t cook them food or do the wolf dance. They threaten to return him to Minnesota, since he had broken part of the agreement, and then Cole immediately returns to do everything they ask. The two men retire to the tent while Cole does the wolf dance on his own. The lesson of the wolf dance is “that you need the help of others, like a wolf pack.”
The next morning, Cole is instructed to go on his own to the pond to soak in the freezing water and reflect on his anger. Then, he goes to the mountain to carry the “ancestor rock” up the mountain and then release his anger downwards as he rolled down the rock. Just as he finishes these soothing exercises, determined to change his life again, he sees the Spirit Bear in the woods.
Cole returns to tell Edwin and Garvey of his morning, and he nearly finishes constructing the shelter, installing a door and windows. The two adults are so impressed that they tell Cole that they are leaving him the next morning. Cole prepares an extra special meal for them as their last dinner together. Since Cole saw the Spirit Bear, he proposes to do a Spirit Bear dance as the last dance before the two leave. Cole’s spirit bear dance reenacts his mauling in its entirety before Edwin and Garvey. Before departing, Garvey presents Cole with a small hunting knife.
Cole is finally alone on the island, and he focuses on keeping himself busy as much as possible. He occupied himself building furniture for his shelter. Edwin makes his first visit back four days later, and Cole seems to be doing well still. When Cole finds a huge washed-up pole, he decides to make a totem pole carving out of it. However, the log brings the possibility of making a canoe for escape, and Cole skips his morning soak in the freezing pond as he contemplates this possibility with anger in his heart for the first time since Edwin and Garvey departed.
On his next visit, Edwin sees that Cole had started to make a canoe but had instead crafted part of a totem pole, and Edwin is impressed that Cole has chosen the right course. Cole signals his first signs of feeling compassion for Peter, who Edwin reports is not doing well. Cole dances an eagle dance, but Edwin says that he is not ready for an anger dance, the one that would heal him the most.
Cole continues to busy himself making a totem pole with an inscribed eagle and then an inscribed wolf. He continues to search for the Spirit Bear on the island, masking his human scent to make him “invisible” by wearing clean clothes and rubbing ashes and branches over his body. Cole meets a beaver in the pond, does a beaver dance, and carves a beaver into the totem pole. Weeks pass with Cole continuing to be busy and to work hard on the totem pole, his schoolwork, and on finding the Spirit Bear again. Still, there is no sign of the Spirit Bear. Cole asks himself, how could he become invisible to the Spirit Bear, and what does he have left to be able to heal?
Cole realizes that to be invisible he has to clear his mind. He had to become invisible “not to the world, but to himself.” He heads to the shore to clear his mind, and when he does so, the Spirit Bear appears by the shore. The sight of the bear is only fleeting, and it disappears almost as quickly as it had appeared.
That night, Cole feels ready to do the dance of anger that Edwin had been telling him about. It naturally comes to him as he lets out a scream and dances around the fire. He again relived the bear attack, and he cries asking forgiveness for attaching Peter. He then forgives those who have hurt him, and he cries profusely. As the scene closes with Cole collapsing, exhausted, crying, halfway through the night, the Spirit Bear looks on, unbeknownst to Cole.
When Edwin comes again, Cole tells him that during the dance of anger he had learned to forgive, because if one doesn’t forgive, one gives the other person control over your emotions. Edwin reminds him that he needs to find a way to make up for Peter, either by helping him or by helping someone else, because otherwise the pain will remain forever. Then, Cole asks Edwin if this is why Edwin and Garvey help him, and Edwin says yes.
Much time lapses, and suddenly Cole is facing the brutal winter. He uses his stockpiled firewood and rarely goes out. He even gives up his morning soak in the freezing pond and carrying the ancestor rock. He replaces that with other routine activities and even celebrates Christmas with a small pine tree he finds in the woods. The only daunting task left was to find the last image to carve into his totem pole.
One day in March, Edwin tells him that Peter has attempted suicide, and Cole is horrified. All he can do for the next days as he goes again to the freezing pond is to think about Peter. The chapter ends with a desperate situation, as Edwin comes back in the skiff to say that Peter has attempted suicide again and that his parents are desperate. Cole says that Peter should come to the island to find hope.
Cole starts by telling Edwin that he thinks Peter should come to the island with him to heal. Edwin questions whether Cole has really changed, and Cole answers that he would stay on the island a lifetime if it meant that Peter would get better and feel better. Edwin leaves and returns two weeks later with Peter Driscal on the skiff. They had followed Cole’s instructions. Along with Peter came his parents as well as Garvey.
Edwin retells the story of the past two weeks. The circle had been meeting for hours to decide how best to help Peter and Cole. The Driscal family was hesitant to go to Alaska, but they realized that they had no other hope. Edwin then tells Cole to recount to the Driscals everything that had transpired on the island in excruciating detail, so that they would know what kind of a transformation had come about inside of him. Cole reveals for the first time to the whole group that he can’t heal until he helps Peter heal.
Peter’s parents decide to leave the next morning, since they feel that Peter is safe with Garvey’s protection, but Mr. Driscal sternly warns Cole that if he touches Peter, he’ll go to jail for sure. Peter still doesn’t want to speak to Cole, but after Cole offers him a candy bar, he takes it. Garvey and Cole chat for a while about life back in Minneapolis. Cole’s father has filed for Cole’s custody, but Garvey assures Cole that he will never win it. Cole’s mother is also said to be doing well. Since Peter is still afraid of Cole, Cole has to sleep in a cold tent 100 yards away from the shelter as Garvey and Peter sleep in the warmth.
The next morning, Peter and Garvey accompany Cole to the freezing pond, although only Cole gets in, and then they carry the ancestor rock up the hill again as well. Days go by without any change in Peter, but eventually he rolls the ancestor rock down the hill and attempts to enter the freezing pond. At the end of the chapter, Peter invites Cole to sleep inside of the warm shelter instead of the cold tent.
Peter begins to pester Cole by mudding up his sleeping bag, destroying some of Cole’s carvings, and doing other things to annoy him. Cole offers him a totem pole of his own to carve, and Peter reluctantly accepts it. Cole is particularly angered when Peter denies that Cole was attacked by an actual Spirit Bear and says it was probably just a black bear. At the end of the chapter, Peter carves back the bear that he had scratched off of Cole’s totem pole, and Cole is so impressed by Peter’s carving skills that he asks Peter to teach him how to carve better.
In this final chapter, Peter first proposes that he and Cole go soak in the freezing pond alone together. On the way, Peter starts pushing Cole after an angry dialogue. Cole refuses to fight back, which only makes Peter attack him harder—punching, kicking, and scratching Cole until he falls to the ground. Cole doesn’t do one thing to fight back. Upon seeing Cole so weak and laying hurt on the ground, Peter falls to his knees and starts crying. Just as Cole goes to hug him, the Spirit Bear appears. Peter is amazed and shocked that he appeared, and understands Cole’s concept of being “invisible.”
The two return to the camp and work together to carve the last space on Cole’s totem pole. Garvey comes out and is shocked to see that they have chosen to carve a simple circle in the last space. Cole’s healing is complete, and he gives the at.óow to Peter, indicating his trust in their relationship.
“Whatever you do to the animals, you do to yourself. Remember that.”
Edwin, p. 19
Edwin says this to Cole in order for him to appreciate the importance of nature in general but also to understand its importance for his own healing. When Cole showed anger towards the Spirit Bear or towards any other animal, it always impeded his own healing. Further, if Cole could not be peaceful towards simple, humble animals, he certainly would not be ready to cease to be angry at humans, with their increased complexity. Thus, anger towards more vulnerable creatures would cause him to harm himself and slow down his own healing. Cole's life, especially on the island, was intertwined with the natural world.
“The mauling didn’t make sense. In the past, everything had always been afraid of him. Why wasn’t the bear scared?”
Narrator, p. 81
This quote by the third-person omniscient narrator gives us insight into Cole's own thought process in the aftermath of the Spirit Bear attack. The fearlessness of the bear is the final factor that makes Cole understand just how weak and vulnerable he is. The bear literally crushes his body but it also figuratively crushes his pride and his sense of anger and power over others. These vices certainly continue to trouble Cole in the second half of the book, but this quote gives an insight into his process of learning and growth through Circle Justice.
“A strange thought occurred to Cole: the world was beautiful. Yes, the world was beautiful….He wondered why he had never noticed this all before. How much beauty had he missed in his lifetime? How much beauty had he destroyed?”
Narrator, p. 114
The narrator gives us this insight into Cole's thoughts as he lies on the floor just after the Spirit Bear attacked him. It is from this position of vulnerability that he understands the wonder of nature. He is for the first time excited about his surroundings, and this is ironic because with so many of his bones broken, he can no longer move around to see them and enjoy them.
“Yes, [the hot dog celebration] was a big deal. It was a party. It was a feast. It was a sharing and a celebration. All because that is what I made it. Yours was simply food because that is all you chose for it to be. All of life is a hot dog. Make of it what you will. I suggest you make your time here on the island a celebration.”
Garvey to Cole, p. 166
Upon returning for a second time to the island, Garvey makes this comment to Cole in order to help him understand the importance of changing one's mindset. This approach to positive thinking as a tool for personal growth was an essential point in Cole's development that allows him to approach his time of isolation on the island with excitement rather than resentment or boredom.
“[Cole] couldn’t stop wondering why he had been born and thinking about all the twisted events that had brought him to this moment. It seemed a bizarre dream to be standing alone on this rocky hillside in Alaska with a round stone at his feet, his mind filled with thoughts so totally different from anything he’d known running around on the streets back in Minneapolis. He felt like a new and a different person.”
Narrator, p. 198
Cole thinks this phrase as he carries out the "ancestor rock" ritual where he carries a big stone representing his life and those who have come before him up a hill, only to roll it back down as a representation of him letting go of his anger. The cultural difference of this "ancestor" tradition, the natural setting of the island, and Cole's own process of growth help him understand just how a significant of a change occurred within him.
“A whale migrates but it doesn’t have a home…I feel like the whale.”
Cole to Garvey and Edwin, p. 182
Cole concedes this to Garvey and Edwin as they try out their first traditional Indian dance based on an animal that has been spotted during the day. As Cole imitated the breaching of the humpback whale, he thought of this insight. This quote illustrates the connection between nature's lessons and personal growth that is present throughout the novel.
Cole: “[Peter’s] never going to forgive me.”
Garvey: “Think how much your arm and hip still hurt. Wounds of the spirit heal even slower.”
This quote exemplifies the duality of body and spirit that is essential to understand Cole's transformation. His own pain of being attacked and isolated on the island pales in comparison with Peter's suffering, and yet Cole requires Peter's forgiveness in order for his transformation to be complete. The importance of "wounds of the spirit" is a touching and universal concept that helps Cole understand his own predicament.
“Being invisible had nothing to do with being seen. Being invisible meant not being sensed or felt.”
Narrator, p. 226
Cole gains this major insight during his second stay on the island when he is troubled because he has not seen the Spirit Bear again. He realized that he had to be "invisible" in order to allow the bear to come near him, but he had been troubled by how to achieve that. This insight is also deeply psychological and represents a sort of self-therapy that Cole had been conducted to understand better his own feelings and to cast out those that are negative.
“The dances, carving the totem, carrying the ancestor rock, touching the Spirit Bear, it was all the same thing—it was finding out who I really was.”
Cole to Peter, p. 283
This quote, near the end of the novel, summarizes in a sentence the point of the book's title and, indeed, of the whole book. These particular events, while their content and character were interesting and important, were merely means to get to the end of personal growth, healing, and forgiveness. In this way, the author makes the lesson of the book go beyond a particular boy in Alaska who encounters a bear into a broader story of the man's search for self and meaning.
“Standing beside the totems, he explained to Peter that being invisible was being a part of life’s circle and accepting it. ‘This morning, when we forgave each other, we also forgave ourselves…We allowed ourselves to become a part of the big circle. That’s why we saw the Spirit Bear.’”
Cole to Peter, p. 286
This quote unites many of the book's themes. It explores how Peter, Cole, and others are united in "the big circle" and how forgiveness was essential in order to see truth and healing. The bear at this point becomes very much symbolic in that it appears as a sign that Cole and Peter have found the right path to their personal growth and are ready for the next step of their lives.
The rising action would
include Edwin and Garvey
taking Cole under their wings.
The Circle Justice having the idea of sending Cole to the island, and Cole trying to escape the island shortly after getting there. it shows the kind of person Cole is and the how much he changed the second time he was on the island.
1) Preview the book by reading
the title and the authors name and by looking at the illustration on the cover. What do you think the story will be about? Where and when do you think it takes place?
I think the book is about a boy with a spiritual bear in a forest and lives alone.
2) what I know about Tlingit indians
-Lived on the land first
-Put on reserves
-Sent to residential schools
to assimilate them into European
What I want to learn
-How they lived
-what they did for fun
-How hard it was to live on reserves
What I learned
This book taught me nothing
3) On a map or globe locate the places on Cole's route from minneapolis to Seattle; on to Ketchikan, Alaska; finally on to the Tlingit village of Drake. About how many miles did Cole have to travel between Minneapolis and his destination? as you read the novel consider how great is the distance, both physically and emotionaly, between the beginning and the end of his journey.
With your class mates, discuss books and films in witch the main character must survive an ordeal of the body and spirit. Make a list of these books and films, including any details about setting or conflict that you recall. Compare your list with those of your classmates.
Hatchet series, paranormal activity, Brother bear,avatar, Wall-E, and Titanic.
Cole Matthews, the main character in this novel, has several important conflicts he must resolve. What kinds of conflicts have you experienced in your own life? with a group of class mates discuss these conflicts and brain storm ways in witch such problems might be settled
pictures of Alaskan
do some research to find out
how our legal system handles
criminal cases involving juvenile
Our legal system basically lets young offenders walk out scotch free. A simple slap on the wrist a kick in the butt and your justice is served witch makes them grow up not changing how they lived and become criminals thinking it will be just as easy to be free.
The main character in the story
has to set some major goals for himself
in order to change the direction of his life.
What kinds of goals have you set for yourself? make a list of 3 goals you hope to
Go to college to either become an
accountant or landscape architect
Get a good Job
Have a nice house with an amazing wife and kids
I figured you'd be here awhile Mr.Miller so i added some calm relaxing music, enjoy.
Thanks for watching, have a nice summer.