Cole is a fifteen-year-old boy who gets into trouble a lot. His father abuses him, which causes a lot of anger. His mother is an alcoholic and did not care about Cole as much as she should. Throughout the novel, Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen, Cole learns more about his conflicts, while healing them at the same time.
Cole has many internal conflicts including fear, anger, and loneliness throughout the novel. The first internal conflict is anger. Cole’s father abused him, which created stress and anger inside of him.
This anger causes Cole to commit crimes.
Cole robbed and trashed a hardware store. Peter, a boy at Cole’s school, found out that Cole did this act of violence. So, Peter told on Cole. Cole found out, in which he got very angry and mad. Instead of confronting Peter, Cole decided to smash Peter’s head against the sidewalk, very hardly. Once Cole was sent to the island of Drake in Alaska, Cole felt depressed and angry at the same time. Cole eventually burnt down his cabin. One last example of anger is dealing with the Spirit Bear. The Spirit Bear was calmly looking at Cole. Cole realized that this bear was not afraid of him.
So, Cole let out his anger and tried to kill the bear. Instead of Cole hurting the bear, the bear mauled Cole. Cole was on the ground, almost dying for about three days. Even though Cole seems like a person who is not afraid of anything, there is actually some fear built somewhere in his body.
Another internal conflict is fear. Cole was a little frightened by the Spirit Bear. So, he needed control and power and teased the bear. Instead of everything working out his way, the bear attacked Cole, leaving plenty of brutal scars and pain in almost every inch of his body.
After the bear mauled Cole, he felt, and looked like he was dying. Cole realized he was afraid to die. So, Cole did everything he could do to stay alive. For instance, he ate grass, killed a mouse for food, and ate almost every moving bug he could see. Lastly, Cole had a dream while he was in the hospital. Cole’s dream was everyone was taking care of him. Including Garvey and Edwin. Suddenly, all of the people helping him turned into monsters and were laughing at him. Cole felt like there was a lack of others caring about him. Not only did Cole have fear and anger, but he also felt lonely.
Garvey and Edwin taught Cole how to dance ‘animal dances’. These animal dances are supposed to educate people what animals can teach them. In once case, Cole danced the Whale Dance. After the Whale Dance, Cole learned that whales travel around, but have no home, just like him. During Christmas-time on the island, Cole felt like nobody cared about him. So, he cut down a tree and celebrated Christmas all alone. Cole always needed to have the attention. Since Cole felt lonely and depressed, he committed crimes to have the attention back on him again.
These many internal conflicts, including fear, anger, and loneliness, happen throughout most of Cole’s life. Cole may seem like every other juvenile delinquent, but throughout this book, he overcomes these conflicts. Peter actually goes on the island with Cole. After a while, they become friends. The second time Cole goes back on the island, he takes extra precautions and does not burn down the cabin. In fact, Cole had to build a whole new one. Whenever he saw the Spirit Bear, he let go of his anger to the Spirit Bear. His anger, fear, and loneliness are still a problem to Cole, but he is now able to fight his difficulties.