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Throughout Touching Spirit Bear, Cole is challenged to forgive and to earn forgiveness. Mikaelsen truly sees this as a central insight to bring justice and healing to communities. At several points in the novel, Cole has to explicitly forgive and be forgiven, climaxing of course with the final and most important forgiveness, between Cole and Peter. Once this final reconciliation occurs, the novel almost immediately ends because it brings together a slow process of allowing Cole to see the hurt that he has caused, to feel remorse, and then to make amends. The author very explicitly treats this theme in the way he structures the book, because these three steps are mirrored in the novel's plot. When Cole goes to the Circle for the first few times he sees the hurt he has caused in the community. Then, when he is attacked by the bear on the island, he is crushed by the remorse that he feels for all those who he had hurt. Finally, when he learns to forgive others and to try to help others recover from their own problems he make amends. These central questions guide the entire novel, and so it can be said that the novel is truly centered on forgiveness.