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Cole is searching for a simpler understanding of the natural world and by consequence, of his own life. Particularly moving is Cole’s Spirit Bear dance in which he reenacts the scene of the mauling from the perspective of the bear. The author uses this clever way to demonstrate how Cole is beginning to understand empathy and forgive instead of holding anger. By placing himself in the skin of his enemy, he accepts the hurt that he felt and the ensuing anger towards the Spirit Bear.
Edwin and Garvey guide him along each of these paths, but as he comments at the end of Chapter 20, he prefers to go on these trips alone to reflect.