In Tangerine, why do you think Paul is so successful at Tangerine Middle School while Joey can't handle the new atmosphere?

In Tangerine, Paul is more successful than Joey when they transfer to Tangerine Middle School because he is used to being teased, doesn't come in angry, and is less explosive in his responses to people.

Expert Answers

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Joey is one of Paul's earliest friends at Lake Windsor Middle School. Their relationship is a fun relationship to discuss and analyze, because their relationship goes through some really big ups and downs. There are moments when we wonder if the friendship can actually be restored. I like that the author put in this kind of friendship, because it has a strong sense of realism to it. Friendships are not always easy, and broken relationships can restored, but not without time and effort.

Both Paul and Joey end up being transferred to Tangerine Middle School, but Paul's transition goes a lot smoother than Joey's. Because they are friends, Paul does try to help Joey fit in and make the transition, but Joey doesn't always take Paul's advice. Additionally, Joey is dealing with his brother's death. There's a mixture of grief and anger with that loss, and the anger has to be dealt with. Unfortunately, Joey doesn't appropriately deal with his anger.

Being a middle school student means teasing. Everybody gets teased, but Joey is not a kid that is used to it, like Paul. Paul has been teased his entire life about his vision, so it really isn't anything new. The teasing being directed at Joey combined with his anger causes him to lash out at people, and he does so with racially driven comments. As you can imagine, this doesn't work out well for Joey, and things just continue to get worse for him.

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