Does Paul have spray paint put into his eyes when he is young in Tangerine?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Paul had spray paint sprayed in his eyes by his brother’s friend when he was five.

Paul has always been told that he stared into an eclipse for too long when he was five, and this is the reason that he is nearly blind.  This is not the reason.  The real reason is that he saw his brother playing with graffiti, vandalizing with white spray paint, and his brother’s friend thought he was a snitch and tried to teach him a lesson.

For the longest time, Paul buys into the myth.  He feels shame that he caused his own blindness with stupidity.  Erik continues to bully him.  Then, the memory comes back.

And I remembered Erik’s fingers prying my eyelids open while Vincent Castor sprayed white paint into them.  They left me screaming and rolling around on the floor of the garage.  Mom came out and tried to drag me over to the hose to rinse out my eyes, but I fought like a wildcat. (Friday, December 1)

When Paul finally remembers after a particularly hard time with Erik, he is full of anger at his parents and his brother.  He does not understand how they could have lied to him all of these years, and let his brother get away with it.  He insists on answers, asking them if they saw the white paint on Erik’s hands.  His father tries to explain.

“The doctors had told us that you might never remember.  … He shook his head sadly.  “We wanted to keep you from always hating your brother.”

I answered, “So you figured it would be better if I just hated myself?” (Friday, December 1)

This admission, or accusation, causes Paul’s father to break down and cry.  Paul realizes that his parents had to choose between their sons that day.  They were trying to give Erik a future without sacrificing Paul’s.  They did not want to admit that Erik was a monster.

When Paul begins to remember, his parents have to come to terms with the fact that Erik bullied him then and continues to bully him now.  They also have to realize their son is a bit of a juvenile delinquent.  At the same time, they need to understand the effects the incident has had on Paul.  He has become troubled himself.  Paul needs to face his demons, but once he does, he will be stronger for it.

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