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In Chapter 9 Cole has just gotten beaten to a pulp by the Spirit Bear. This is really a turning point for Cole. His control is gone and there in no way of manipulating his way out of this problem. He is near death yet he has this overwhelming concern about baby birds that have fallen out of their nest. Cole is slowly learning that he is a part of the cycle of life and death. By chapter 12, he realizes that he can either contribute to the cycle or be a cause of anguish and destruction.
thSo what he thinks the circle is, is that you live, you die and that help something else grow which then lives, die, and then rots