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Cole is actually in no condition to kill anything by the time Spirit Bear finishes pummelling him into the ground. Still, before Cole has his fight, he thinks that he would like to kill it. Garvey and Edwin know that Cole has much to learn about respect and animals. Cole's violent inclinations extend to the bear because he can not see past himself. He is flippant about life and it takes the bear nearly killing him for Cole to begin to change.
Cole sees himself in the bear. He wants to escape the island before Edwin and Garvey come back to check on him, but the bear comes back and stands motionless......... just watching. Cole takes this as a challenge; he still has no fear and never thinks that something will happen to him. He has no respect for life;
"He knew that life would be altered forever one way or another, but nothing in any cell of his being allowed him to back away. If the bear did not turn and run, that left only one alternative. "You're dead," Cole whispered.
Touching Spirit Bear/ Chapter 7