"All his life he had squandered his choices, wallowing in revenge and self-pity, keeping himself down. Now, as he lay near death, those he had hated were safe and warm.Those he had blamed were still alive and well. He had hurt himself most. Life was empty and meaningless unless he found some meaning" (Mikaelsen, 98).
This is what Cole starts thinking when he is slowly dying after the Spirit Bear attacks him. He realizes that if he wants to live, he has to find a meaning in his life that will compel him to keep living. This is a big moment for him because he finally finds out that the world is not all about him, and that if he dies, it will not be a big deal in the course of the universe.
"As Cole stared at the tiny bodies, sadness flooded him. The sparrows were so frail, helpless, and innocent. They hadn't deserved to die" (page 96).
After the storm, Cole finds the baby sparrows are dead, and for the first time, he feels sadness and sympathy. He finds that the world is a cruel place and that the universe takes life without remorse. Cole is moved and he knows that it was not right that those insignificant sparrows did not deserve to die.
"Deliberately, he raised his hand and tossed the hair into the water.Beginning today, he would tell the truth. His words would become his only proof" (page 132).
This is a turning point for Cole. This happens once he has been rescued from the island and is returning to the mainland. No one believes him when he tells them he saw a Spirit Bear, and instead of trying to force them to believe him with solid proof, he decides that he is done needing to have solid evidence. He decides that he only wants to need his words as proof. He wants to be trusted by people and kind of reinvent himself.
"Again Cole knew he was lying. He had slept poorly because he had considered making a canoe instead of a totem. Taking a deep breath, he lifted the hatchet and began striking the center of the log. Again and again he hacked, until a deep groove circled the log" (page 216).
This is the point when Cole starts to carve a canoe to get off the island, but he realizes that what he is doing is wrong, so he ruins the canoe and makes a totem pole instead. This is the part of the story when she is starting to learn right and wrong and is starting to develop a conscience. He realizes that leaving the island will not save him from his anger and will not help him heal.