How are the people in Lake Windsor Downs are intolerant of differences?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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It is certain that the Fisher's move from Houston to Florida is fraught with difficulties, many of which stem from the new community's lack of tolerance.  The irony is, where first the reader is led to believe that the intolerance is directed towards Paul, the REAL point of the intolerance is the RACIAL intolerance of the whites for the Hispanic community.

At first, the reader is led to believe that much of this intolerance is centered around the character of Paul Fisher.  First, he is legally blind and wears really thick glasses, so this immediately exposes him to ridicule.  Things get worse when he tries out for the soccer team, but is rejected because of the paperwork labeling him as "handicapped."  When he is transferred to Tangerine (due to some unsafe conditions at his old school), suddenly Paul is now a minority: yet another setback in regards to tolerance! 

Through Paul's interaction with the Hispanic majority at Tangerine, Paul learns that it is HIS gated community of whites that is more intolerant! Through Tino's family, Paul finds the Hispanic community both welcome and inviting.  Paul is suddenly aware of the intolerance of his community through racial slurs and accusations thrown unjustly at people of Hispanic origin. Worse, Paul learns that his own brother is responsible for the worst of crimes, ... even murder (as well as Paul's own eye injury), ... and how Paul's parents PROTECTED their favorite: the intolerant brother!  Erick (the brother) is both apprehended and given the mental help he needs while Paul attends a new school (for being unjustly expelled from the last one during a rescue).

In conclusion, it's important to note that there is a new dawn at the end of the book: a new Catholic school. Will Paul find more intolerance there? Or will things, such as the school uniform, help insure tolerance of many differences?  These are the questions with which the novel ends.

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