Touching Spirit Bear

by Ben Mikaelsen

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Why does Cole feel a certain way about the baby birds and their mother in Touching Spirit Bear?

Quick answer:

Cole feels the way he does about the baby birds and their mother in Touching Spirit Bear because of his negative relationship with his mother.

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In chapter 9, Cole continues to suffer due to the bear attack. He passes in and out of consciousness near a spruce tree. A tiny bird’s nest on one of the branches catches Cole’s attention. He observes a sparrow flying to the nest with a bug or worm. He then notices small heads coming out of the nest. Cole puts two and two together and realizes that he’s watching a mother bird feed her babies.

The presence of the birds and their mom doesn’t make Cole feel warm and fuzzy. The loving behavior leaves him “irritated.” If Cole wasn’t hurt, he could reach the nest and destroy it. According to Cole, “That’s what the stupid birds deserved.” Cole then thinks about what he would do if he were the mother bird. He would not be compassionate. He would abandon the baby birds and let them “fend for themselves.” In Cole’s mind, the mother bird didn’t “owe them anything.”

Cole likely feels this way because his parents didn’t take good care of him. They didn’t give him the kind of affection that this mother bird is supplying to her young. Cole's parents were abusive. Cole describes his mom as a drunk who didn’t care about the beatings that his dad would give him. His mom acted like a “scared Barbie doll.” She never stood up for herself or anybody else. Considering Cole’s negative feelings toward his mom, one might not be surprised that he exhibits a harsh attitude about the mother bird and her babies.

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