What is a theme of Touching Spirit Bear and what is some textual evidence that explains the theme?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The theme is the importance of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is important in this novel because Cole has to forgive his parents, Peter has to forgive him, and he has to forgive himself.  The novel’s events occur because Cole is an angry young man.  His father is abusive and his mother is...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The theme is the importance of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is important in this novel because Cole has to forgive his parents, Peter has to forgive him, and he has to forgive himself.  The novel’s events occur because Cole is an angry young man.  His father is abusive and his mother is alcoholic.  He attacks a classmate, Peter, for telling on him when he tried to rob a hardware store.  This just makes him hate himself more.

Cole agrees to take part in Circle Justice because he thinks that he will get an easier sentence.  It has nothing to do with feeling bad about what he has done.  Cole blames everyone else for his own problems.  Garvey tries to explain the importance of the process to him.

Garvey spoke patiently. “You don’t have to be Native American or First Nation. Anybody can love, forgive, and heal. Nobody has a corner on that market.” (Ch. 1)

Cole’s response is to ask what’s in it for him.  However, he gets immense benefits out of forgiveness.  It takes Cole a long time to forgive his parents and himself for what he has done.  The first time he is on the island, he makes no effort to forgive.  He attacks the Spirit Bear and almost dies.  However, after that experience he realizes that Peter can’t forgive him if he doesn’t forgive himself.

Garvey explains the importance of Peter’s forgiving Cole.

 “How come everything is always about you? This forgiveness isn’t for you. Until Peter forgives you, he won’t heal.”

“Maybe if he forgives me, everyone will forget about what I did and I can get out of this pit faster.” (Ch. 3)

It takes Peter a long time to forgive Cole.  He comes to Cole’s island and hates him at first, but he eventually realizes that Cole has changed.  Peter’s forgiveness helps Cole forgive himself.

Cole gives up the resentment he has toward his parents.  The important part is that Cole has come to understand himself better, and he has let go of his anger.  He no longer blames other people, and he is ready to move on.

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team