In the book Tangerine why does Paul think someone will have to pay for Erik's humiliation?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Erik is a malevolent force, and deep down Paul is aware of this.

Sometimes people repress memories, meaning that they have memories deep inside them that they don’t know they are there.  This is the case with Paul.  He has something inside him that tells him that something is wrong with the story about the eclipse, but he doesn’t remember what really happened.

When Erik is insulted on the news, Paul’s reaction is really Erik’s.  He knows what his brother is like.  His brother is constantly teasing and bullying him, and not in a gentle and good-natured big brother way, but in a bullying way.  Paul knows that his brother is mean-spirited.    He does not know who his brother will take out his anger on at his humiliation over the news coverage, but he knows he will take it out one someone. 

Paul realizes that football is important to Paul and his parents, and that makes the humiliation even worse. 

I was thinking that if this were at somebody else’s house, we’d be rolling on the floor laughing at this.  … But this isn’t somebody else’s house.  This is the house built on the Erik Fisher Football Dream.  (p. 129)

Paul knows that his family cares more about Erik’s sports career than his own.  Erik is the golden boy who can do no wrong, and Paul is handicapped.  When he sees the news story, Paul internalizes Erik’s reaction, knowing how he will react, and reacting for him.  Perhaps he is worrying that Erik will take it out on him, as he has a tendency to do.

Paul is puzzled by the story of the eclipse, because he knows it is not the whole truth.  All he knows is that Erik is involved somehow.  As he gets older and learns more and more about the truth about Erik, he remembers what really happened, and just how responsible Erik is, not Paul.  For years, Paul’s parents have been blaming Paul for his handicap and putting Erik on a pedestal.  It’s time for them to see the truth.