Touching Spirit Bear

by

Ben Mikaelsen

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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 afraid of everything, including her own shadow—and thus, he sees her as ineffective and as just another person who abandoned him. This is mostly due to the fact that Cole’s mom is an alcoholic and never stood up to her then-husband when he beat Cole, though she knew full well the abuse was happening. Some of Cole’s mom’s behavior suggests that she didn’t stand up to her husband out of fear—he at least threatened to hurt her like he hurt Cole, and it’s never confirmed whether or not he was violent with her. Cole’s mom only begins to change when Cole’s parole officer, Garvey, impresses upon her that she shares the blame for what happened to Cole in Alaska because of her refusal to protect Cole by pressing charges against her ex-husband. Following her choice to accuse Cole’s dad of child abuse, Cole’s mom quits drinking, begins dressing more casually (before, she dressed up in an attempt to protect herself and hide her true feelings), and visits Cole regularly in the hospital and then in the detention center. She becomes more open with Cole as well, and she owns up to the mistakes she made as a parent and in her marriage. Her apology for not protecting Cole causes Cole to cry. During Cole’s final stint on the island, his mom writes often and calls Garvey regularly to check up on Cole—though the terms of Cole’s banishment mean he won’t get to read her letters or speak to his mom until he returns to the mainland.

Cole’s Mom Quotes in Touching Spirit Bear

The Touching Spirit Bear quotes below are all either spoken by Cole’s Mom or refer to Cole’s Mom. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Touching Spirit Bear published in 2002.
Chapter 5 Quotes

Cole felt no regret for having burned the supplies and the shelter. Nor did he regret hurting Peter. This was all somebody else’s fault. If it weren’t for his parents, Peter, and the stupid Healing Circle, he wouldn’t even be here. Somebody would pay for what was happening. He would get revenge, especially against those who had wanted him in jail. People like Peter’s lady lawyer. He hated her.

Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

“Your father isn’t a bad person, but when he was younger, he had parents who beat him for everything he did. That’s all he ever knew. When I saw him start doing it to you, I kept telling myself things would get better. Drinking helped me ignore reality.” She shook her head. “It took a divorce and you ending up in the hospital to wake me up. I realized I couldn’t change your father, but I could change me. I’m sorry you’ve gone through all you have. Can you ever forgive me?”

Related Characters: Cole’s Mom (speaker), Cole Matthews, Cole’s Dad
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

“I just know that my dad’s not going to ever come back to say he’s sorry. Even if he did, he couldn’t change what he did. He couldn’t take away all the memories.”

“So you think this is all his fault, huh?” asked Edwin.

“No,” said Cole, his voice trembling. “Mom said his parents beat him up, too. I don’t know where the anger all started. All I know is I don’t ever want to have a kid and beat him up.”

Related Characters: Cole Matthews (speaker), Edwin (speaker), Garvey, Cole’s Mom, Cole’s Dad
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Touching Spirit Bear LitChart as a printable PDF.
Touching Spirit Bear PDF

Cole’s Mom Character Timeline in Touching Spirit Bear

The timeline below shows where the character Cole’s Mom appears in Touching Spirit Bear. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...he’s only here because Peter wouldn’t fight back. What angers Cole most, however, is his mom and dad’s behavior. They used to always come to his rescue with a lawyer and... (full context)
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Cole thinks that his mom never stands up to anyone, while his dad drinks and blames everything on Cole. He... (full context)
Chapter 3
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
...sympathy, Cole cracked and shouted that his dad hits him until he’s numb while his mom does nothing. Garvey then pulled out baking ingredients and asked Cole to taste them. Cole... (full context)
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
...in his cake are awful; banishment feels even worse than his dad’s abuse or his mom ignoring him. Cole only looks away and stops laughing when the fire starts to slow... (full context)
Chapter 4
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...in suits and look out of place. Cole’s dad sits on Cole’s left; when Cole’s mom arrived a minute later, wearing a party dress, she sits on Cole’s right. Cole feels... (full context)
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...Peter and Cole well. As the feather moves around the circle, people introduce themselves. Cole’s mom nearly cries as she introduces herself. When Cole gets the feather, he squirms. He says... (full context)
Chapter 5
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...and untrustworthy. Other people echoed her, and then Cole’s dad said that he and Cole’s mom have always wanted what’s best to him. Cole interrupted to say his dad was lying—his... (full context)
Chapter 6
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Ritual Theme Icon
...him—he doesn’t think his dad even knows when his birthday is. Cole then asks his mom to talk about how Cole’s dad beats him, but his mom just glances at Cole’s... (full context)
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
...use the buckle end. Cole screamed and screamed. That night, for the first time, his mom said something, but she ran away when Cole’s dad threatened to hit her too. (full context)
Chapter 14
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...months later, Cole limps slowly out of the hospital. Garvey is next to him; Cole’s mom and a guard are behind. Cole’s dad didn’t visit Cole in the hospital because a... (full context)
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Lots of people from the Circle visited Cole during his hospitalization. His mom came often and assured Cole that she loves and cares about him, but Cole didn’t... (full context)
Ritual Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...sure what the justice system will do now. He promises to stop by tomorrow. Cole’s mom says she’ll visit too, and then she suddenly hugs Cole. Rather than push her away,... (full context)
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
Cole settles in. His dad never visits, but Garvey and Cole’s mom stop by every day. Cole’s mom looks happier. One day, she suggests that they start... (full context)
Chapter 15
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...and that he can’t go back to the island. He hands the feather to his mom and notices that no one seems to believe him. Cole’s mom says that Cole has... (full context)
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...is his dad’s fault, but Cole says he knows it’s not. He shares what his mom said about his dad’s parents beating him too. Cole starts to cry and says that... (full context)
Chapter 21
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
Justice and Responsibility Theme Icon
...Cole has mail, but that he can’t have it until his year is up. His mom calls Garvey daily. Cole also asks about his dad. Edwin shrugs and says that his... (full context)
Chapter 26
Fear, Power, and Cycles of Violence Theme Icon
...his math homework. When Cole takes a break, Garvey shares news of Cole’s parents. His mom sends her love, while Cole’s dad has filed a lawsuit to have the abuse charges... (full context)