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Cole has already said that if he sees the bear he will attack it. Once he sees it, he wants to make sure that the bear fears him when he throws rocks at it. His anger at life in general and his planning by storing a knife and a spear makes him ready to attack the bear and try to kill it.
Cole attacks the Spirit Bear because to "attack" those things he fears is what he's done all of his life. He's never been afraid of anything before; he's always been the antagonist rather than the protagonist..... and now the tables are turned. So he attacks something that he's afraid of; not to mention that the bear is the first thing he's ever encountered that's not afraid of him.
This act represents the story's climax. Everything negative that Cole holds within him comes bubbling to the surface. He's angry, he's reckless, and he's violent. But it isn't the bear that has invoked all of these feelings........ it's the experiences Cole has suffered throughout his life. In attacking the Spirit Bear, Cole is attacking everyhting that has ever hurt him. For Cole, the bear isn't just a bear...... it's his father, it's the abuse, it's the juvenile court system and everything else all rolled into one.
Toucjing Spirit Bear
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