Study Guide

Touching Spirit Bear Chapter 21

By Ben Mikaelsen

Chapter 21

  • After the men leave, Cole refuses to get lazy or take advantage of his freedom. Instead he works super hard and improves his cabin and camp; he also continues to soak in the pond and carry the ancestor rock every day.
  • By the time Edwin comes to visit, Cole's furnished his cabin with furniture that he's made from driftwood and other scraps of supplies. He's even built up a little store of firewood.
  • Edwin tells him that Garvey has gone back to Minneapolis, and Cole tells him to let Garvey know that he plans to carve something special with the knife.
  • When Edwin leaves again, Cole goes walking around the island and finds a huge log. He decides that he's going to drag it back to the cabin and carve his own totem pole out of it. He's briefly tempted to turn it into a canoe… which would enable him to escape.
  • He sleeps poorly that night and skips his trip to the pond and to carry the rock. When Cole realizes that the mere thought of escape has brought back his anger, he decides to hack at the log until it can no longer be used as a canoe and can only be a totem.
  • Cole works on carving an eagle into the totem pole, and then does an eagle dance that night. He keeps wondering when he's going to see Spirit Bear again.
  • The next time that Edwin visits, Cole asks him about why Spirit Bear is keeping away this time. Edwin says that the bear was probably curious at first, but after it mauled Cole, it saw him as invisible.
  • Cole hands over his schoolwork and says that he's been keeping on top of it. When he asks if he's gotten mail, Edwin tells him that there has been mail, but that he's not allowed contact with the outside world right now.
  • He does tell him that Cole's mom has been calling Garvey every day to check in on her son.
  • When Cole asks after his father, Edwin tells him that the lawyer got him released on the very same day that he was arrested—which means that he never spent a night in jail.
  • Then he asks how Peter is doing and Edwin tells him the truth: Peter isn't doing so well and his depression keeps getting worse. Cole wishes he could help somehow.
  • Later, Edwin checks out the totem and notices right away that Cole tried to carve a canoe. Cole admits that he thought about it, but that he knew that it was wrong, so he carved in a deep grove that made it so he couldn't try again.
  • Edwin tells him he's proud of Cole for carving a totem—and more importantly, for being honest about his weaknesses and mistakes.
  • Then Edwin tells him that the totem will represent Cole's story, detailing his past and his search for a better future.