When the bear approaches Pagosa during the annual bear festivities, Tom's emphatic instructions that he return to woods echo his own situation. While Tom recognizes that he has lost his old way of life forever, he holds out hope for the bear that perhaps he will not have to suffer from a similar fate.
When Tom encounters with the animals who had been his closest friends before his transition to the civilized lifestyle, they react with hostility and a lack of familiarity. Their reaction foreshadows his later sense of alienation from the world as a whole. Having confirmed his status as an outsider in the civilized world, he returns to the wild only to have lost his sense of belonging there as well.