What Is "Touching Spirit Bear" About?


Quick Answer

"Touching Spirit Bear" by Ben Mikaelsen tells the story of a school bully who, facing jail time for beating up and seriously injuring a classmate, is offered a Native American form of justice instead: temporary exile to an Alaskan island in order to learn self-reliance and responsibility for his actions. During the course of the novel, the bully, Cole, undergoes a spiritual transformation.

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Full Answer

The turning point of the novel is Cole's encounter with a mythical white bear — the "Spirit Bear" of the title. Forced to confront his own weakness and faced with the prospect of his own demise after the bear's attack, Cole learns that nobody but him is responsible for his life.

By the time of his rescue from the island, Cole has realized that neither his parents nor his victim can be blamed for his original actions.

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