Compare and contrast the Costello brothers' relationship and the Fisher brothers' relationship.   

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are a few similarities in the relationship between the Costello brothers and the Fisher brothers in Edward Bloor's novel Tangerine. There are many more differences.

The first similarities are between the older brothers. Both Mike Costello and Erik Fisher are the oldest in their family. Both are football players. Mike Costello holds the ball for Erik, who is the team's placekicker. There are parallel similarities in the younger brothers. Both of them play soccer.

The two sets of brothers have completely different relationships with their siblings. One of the first things that Joey, Mike's younger brother, does when Mike is killed by lightning is to take Mike's shoes off. This is an act of kindness that he explains to Paul in part 2 of the novel:

Joey let the sorrow pump out of him now, like blood from an artery. "But—but I saw Mike lying there. Maybe I even knew he was dead. I don't know. I had to do something for him, somehow. Mike always felt better when he got his shoes off. That's the first thing he did when he came home, always."

Contrast this act of kindness with the cruelty of Erik toward his little brother. When he was young, Erik spray-painted Paul's eyes, causing him to be vision impaired. He never apologized. He was never contrite. And he never tried to be kind to his brother, before or after that event.

Paul and Joey share similar characteristics. They are both team players, and they help others. This is evidenced when they help their classmates out of the sinkhole at Lake Windsor Downs Middle School. When Joey overhears Erik and his friend making fun of him, he laments that he should have punched them out for that. He says that's what Mike would have done, that he wasn't a coward like he is. Paul is similar to Joey in that he won't stand up to Erik, but he finds the courage to do so at the end of the novel.

Joey enjoyed a healthy relationship with his older brother. He never speaks of Mike being mean to him in any way. He admired many of Mike's characteristics and accomplishments. This is in contrast to Paul's relationship with Erik. He sees Erik for what he is, and there is nothing to admire about his character. He also sees Erik getting everything he wants, including all his father's attention, because of his athletic ability. Paul lives in the coldness of Erik's shadow and doesn't share what he knows about him until near the end of the novel.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The brothers’ relationships are much more different than they are alike. This difference stems from the fact that Mike Costello is a foil to Erik. A foil is a character whose traits  contrast with those of another character. This contrast highlights particular traits of each character. In Tangerine , Mike Costello’s genuine kindness, academic success, and brotherly attitude contrast with Erik’s false kindness, football mania, and sadistic attitude towards his little...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

brother. If the author had omitted Mike Costello, the reader couldn’t compare Erik to a similar character who chooses to be good. Therefore, given that Mike and Erik differ so greatly, it stands to reason that their relationships with their little brothers contrast as much as their personalities do. 

Since Mike dies early in the novel, we don’t have many concrete examples of the Costello brothers’ relationship. However, from Mike’s bravery and kindness, the reader infers that he is a role model for Joey. He’s certainly a role model for Paul, who admires Mike for standing up to Erik, a choice that Paul still cannot bring himself to make. Given that Mike inspires people outside of his family, it’s logical that he’s an inspiration to his little brother. In contrast, Paul rejects Erik's evil nature. Paul sees Erik as a threat, not a role model. 

 Additionally, Joey’s actions after Mike’s death speak volumes about his intense love for Mike. Joey rushes to the field and tries to make Mike comfortable by taking off his shoes. He’s distraught with grief. At this moment, we can ask ourselves an uncomfortable question: how would Paul feel if the lightning bolt had struck Erik?  He certainly would feel conflicted since Erik brutally tortured Paul and even blinded him. He might feel free of a burden, yet also sad to lose the chance to redeem Erik. Regardless, his ambiguous feelings would strongly contrast with Joey’s immense sadness. This shows that while Mike and Joey are a team, Paul and Erik are at war with each other.

Though the relationships greatly differ, there is one point of similarity. Both younger brothers feel the weight of their older brothers’ legacies. Joey feels pressured to live up to Mike’s (modest) football success after his death. He even quits the soccer team and plans to play high school football. He wants to be like his brother. Paul also grapples with his older brother’s legacy. In this case, however, he wants athletic success in a different sport. Given that Erik’s football success completely monopolizes his parents’ lives, Paul struggles to make a name for himself in soccer. He wants his parents to treat him like they treat Erik, and he wants the respect that his soccer success deserves. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team