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Although an animal, the Spirit Bear is a truly central character in this novel. Hardly a chapter goes by without a mention of him. His presence on the island is almost mythical since Spirit Bears are supposed to live somewhere southeast of the island. However, Cole repeatedly sees the bear in his first few days on the island. When he assaults the Spirit Bear, it violently retaliates against Cole. While the figure assumes a highly symbolic role, its real existence as a formidable beast to be reckoned with is a strong counter to Cole's own pride and anger.