Touching Spirit Bear


Ben Mikaelsen

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Touching Spirit Bear Characters

Cole Matthews

Cole is the 15-year-old protagonist of the novel. Cole is unspeakably angry, and to deal with his anger, he takes it out on everyone around him. This is why he commits crimes—he’s been getting in… read analysis of Cole Matthews

Peter Driscal

Peter is a skinny, redheaded ninth grader whom Cole violently beats up when Peter tattles to adults that Cole robbed and trashed a hardware store. Following the beating, Peter suffers a permanent limp, has memory… read analysis of Peter Driscal


Edwin is the Tlingit elder who facilitates Cole’s banishment on a remote Alaskan island after Cole assaults Peter. He’s a potbellied, quiet man with a look that seems consistently calm and knowing. Edwin… read analysis of Edwin


Garvey is Cole’s parole officer after Cole is arrested for assaulting Peter. Garvey is built like a bulldog and annoys Cole, since he’s unwaveringly friendly, visits all the time, and seems to see… read analysis of Garvey

Cole’s Dad

Cole’s dad is a wealthy, imposing man who regularly dresses in three-piece suits, no matter where he’s going. He’s a heavy drinker and believes that he can deal with every problem by throwing money… read analysis of Cole’s Dad
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Cole’s Mom

Cole’s mom is a timid woman who, in the year before the novel begins, divorced Cole’s dad. At first, Cole resents his mother. He thinks of her as a timid, mouse-like woman who’s… read analysis of Cole’s Mom

Nathaniel Blackwood

Nathaniel Blackwood is the lawyer whom Cole’s dad hires to defend Cole after he assaults Peter. Blackwood is a stiff man who, in Cole’s opinion, must starch his underwear, judging by just how… read analysis of Nathaniel Blackwood


Rosey is the nurse who cares for Cole after he’s mauled by the Spirit Bear. She’s the only—and according to Garvey, the best—nurse in the small Alaskan village of Drake. She’s short, has… read analysis of Rosey

Peter’s Lawyer

Peter’s lawyer is a middle-aged woman. Though Cole never describes what she looks like except to note that she’s about his parents age, he hates her. This is understandable—Peter’s lawyer is dismissive and wholly… read analysis of Peter’s Lawyer
Minor Characters
Judge Tanner
Judge Tanner is the judge assigned to Cole’s case. He attends Circle Justice meetings.
The Keeper
The Keeper is the woman who facilitates the Circle Justice meetings in Minneapolis.
Mr. Driscal
Mr. Driscal is Peter’s father. He’s very protective of his son.
Mrs. Driscal
Mrs. Driscal is Peter’s mother.