Study Guide

Tangerine Family

By Edward Bloor


As usual when Erik appears, the attention switched from me to him. (1.3.24)

Hmmm…we wonder if this is because of his parents, or because of Erik himself? Is this a case of parents favoring a kid, of a kid just sucking up all the attention?

Dad […] was halfway out the door, and he did not look happy. He was lecturing Mom. (1.4.3)

Wow, great example to set for the kiddos! These boys are definitely going to grow up into good marriage material. Not.

So there I sat […]—Erik Fisher's younger brother, Eclipse Boy, visually impaired and totally incapable of following in his brother's footsteps. (1.6.11)

But would Paul even want to follow in mean ol' Erik's footsteps? He hates football; he's not a psychopath; and, oh yeah, he's his own person. It looks like families can stifle individuality.

My grandparents are Mom's parents. Dad's parents died when he was young. […] Dad never talks about them. It's like they never existed. Mom doesn't talk much about hers, either. (1.8.4-5)

Mom and Dad had better be careful, because they're teaching Erik and Paul how to treat them by the way they treat their own parents. Hello, out-of-the-way nursing home!

Mom and Dad are at each other's throats arguing about all of this. (1.11.5)

Again, setting a great example for the kids. Although—at least Mr. and Mrs. talk to each other, instead of just threatening violence while holding baseball bats. So, maybe Erik should pay a little more attention to the example they're setting.

What if Erik was the body at the undertaker's now? How would I feel about that? I would feel relieved. I would feel safer. (1.11.9-10)

Is Erik really that bad? So bad that his own brother is justified in wishing for his death? Yikes! Talk about dysfunction. You're supposed to feel safe with your family, not at risk.

But that's Dad. You're either at the center of his world, or you're nowhere. There is no in-between. (1.19.10)

Basically, Mr. Fisher doesn't know how to share. He only has enough attention for one person at a time, and that person is Erik—because Erik is just like him. Frankly, Paul, with a Dad like this, we think you're better off being ignored.

Joey let the sorrow pump out of him […] "I saw Mike lying there. […] I had to do something for him, somehow. Mike always felt better when he got his shoes off […] And that's all I was trying to do." (2.3.26)

Joey may not be our favorite character, but he's got a good side. For one, he seems to really love his brother. We can't think of one single time when either Erik or Paul tried to do something thoughtful for each other. Can you?

The four of us got up and went our separate ways—me up to my room. (2.6.43)

It's one thing to be so busy that you can't always spend time together, or to have separate interests that keep you apart sometimes. But not even wanting to hang out together? Ever? No Family Home Evenings? No Monopoly in front of the fire? That's pretty sad.

Luis looked away. Tino was staring at him with reverence, with no trace of the hard-guy face he usually carries around. (2.16.29)

Talk about brotherly love—this is almost crossing over into brotherly worship. If only Paul could even like his brother, much less respect or admire him.

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