The primary conflict in Ben Mikaelsen's Touching Spirit Bear is primarily an internal one. Cole Matthews is an angry young man. He grew up in a dysfunctional family; his mother is weak and timid and his father is aggressive and cruel.
“All my parents do is drink. They hate me. Do you know what it's like waking up every morning knowing you're not good enough? There are only two things wrong with me--everything I do and everything I say. They'll never be happy until I'm dead.”
The only physical touch he ever remembers getting is being hit by his father, and once his parents divorced he was shipped from place to place in a vain effort to "fix" him. The next step for him, of course, is that he gets in trouble with the law. When one of his classmates overhears him bragging about his illegal activities, Cole beats him nearly to death. This is where his most intense...
(The entire section contains 490 words.)