Study Guide

Tangerine Identity

By Edward Bloor


He seems a pretty decent guy, for a football player. But who knows? He's bound to change, in one way or another, once he gets caught up inside the Erik Fisher Football Dream. (1.3.40)

Paul's the one who came up with that phrase. Does that tell you more about Erik, Mr. Fisher, or Paul?

Erik's arrival is going to change the football season at Lake Windsor High School. […] So what about me? Will I make the difference between winning and losing for the middle school's soccer team? (1.4.1)

Here's the thing: Paul isn't asking if he'll help the team win. He's asking if he'll make the difference. In other words—he thinks he might just help them lose. It's looking too good for Paul's self-confidence.

"Are you a soccer fan?" "I'm a soccer player," I corrected her. (1.4.45)

Oh, he's a player! Did anyone tell Kerri? Okay, sorry…

"I went right along with the story. I even told it myself. It gave me a special kindergarten identity. […] I was living proof that you shouldn't look at an eclipse or you'll go blind. (1.6.10)

Paul has a fake identity, like Superman and Clark Kent. The disguise even involves glasses. (Except, not as cool.) But here's our question: how did Paul know the story was fake?

"I'm not a water boy, Dad. I'm not a team manager. I'm a player" (1.13.39)

The one thing that Paul knows about himself is how good he is at soccer. That part of his identity he's got down pat—but his dad keeps trying to take it away from him.

I could stop trying to be what everyone else is and accept being a freak. They could open a new exhibit, starring me. […] Eclipse Boy, studied by the greatest doctors in Europe but still a mystery to this day. (1.15.62)

Okay, becoming this kind of star would not be helpful. Here, Paul imagines his identity as defined by his difference. He's not a fully rounded person; he's just a defect. (Or what he sees as a defect.)

I'm not saying I was a hero. All I did was slide around in the mud and try to pull people up. But I didn't panic and run, either. (1.17.14)

Why does Paul diminish his role in helping? Is he's so down on himself that he can't even be proud of himself when he does something great, or is he actually showing what a good, normal guy he is?

Kerri Gardner knows about my glasses, but she doesn't think there's anything wrong with me. (2.8.58)

It sounds like Paul thinks his glasses are the cause of what's wrong with him. Are they? Is anything actually wrong with Paul, or has Erik just convinced him of that?

"Am I such a stupid idiot fool that I stared at a solar eclipse for an hour and blinded myself? Is that who I am? Am I that idiot?" (3.9.95)

Paul knows he's not. And his parents know he's not. And now they know he knows. And he knows they know he knows. But do they know he knows they know he knows?

"They know a bad dude when they see one" (3.13.66)

Paul has gone from being chased by zombies to chasing them away: now that is what we call character development. And a satisfying ending.

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