Metaphors of Life (you will have need to have read Tangerine by Edward Bloor) Paul's subdivision was built on a foundation of termite-infested ground, next to a field that constantly burns muck...

Metaphors of Life (you will have need to have read Tangerine by Edward Bloor)

Paul's subdivision was built on a foundation of termite-infested ground, next to a field that constantly burns muck fires,near a school that is built on land that becomes a sinkhole.
In what ways is the setting, the town of Tangerine, a metaphor for Paul's life?

What fire burns constantly in Paul's life?

What is it in Paul's life that collapses just as the ground collapses into a sinkhole?

If anyone could give their opinions on this, that would be great.

Expert Answers
misstemple1261 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Lake Windsor Downs and Paul’s life are built on shaky foundations. Paul’s parents use secrecy and evasion to convince both of their sons that a traumatic event, Erik’s cruel attack on Paul, never took place. Similarly, the developers of Tangerine mislead the public by lying about the environmental dangers of Tangerine, including the fact that the public school is built on a sinkhole! Since important facts about both Paul's life and Lake Windsor Down's construction are obscured by half-truths and evasions, neither Paul nor the citizens of Lake Windsor Downs can fully address the negative aspects of their current living conditions. 

I agree with anthonda49’s connection between Tangerine’s  constant fires and Paul’s quest to discover the real source of his blindness. This user's answer shows that the character versus character conflict between Paul and Erik contributes to Paul’s character development throughout the novel and acts as fuel for many of Paul's decisions. I’d also like to add that Paul’s desire to prove himself provokes many of his actions. Paul's internal conflict with himself is a fire burning in his life. This is a character versus self conflict since Paul struggles against his lack of self-confidence and feelings of inferiority.  Paul fights to prove that he is a good athlete despite his blindness, as well as a good friend despite his timidity and inability to stand up for his new friends from Tangerine Middle School when Erik bullies them.

I  see the sinkhole collapse as a positive event in Paul’s life. I’d argue that Paul’s desire to “keep up appearances” and conform to his parents’ wishes for him collapses just as the ground collapses into a sinkhole. Empowered by his brave actions during the sinkhole collapse, Paul plans a new life for himself at Tangerine Middle School and advocates for himself even when his parents seem skeptical. In this case, disaster is good since it makes a new start possible; just as  Lake Windsor Downs now has the opportunity to build a new school on a firm foundation, Paul has the opportunity to rebuild his life in a better place.

anthonda49 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Paul's life is full of deceptive appearances, just like Lake Windsor. On the surface, all appears to be perfect, but below the surface, there are ugly problems. The fire burning in his life is his fear of Erik and the desire to find out how his sight was damaged. The sinkhole is like his dismissal from the soccer team because he has an IEP detailing his visual impairment. The termites come from the bulldozed tangerine trees. I feel like his parents' marriage is built on rotten ground as well. Mom won't confront Dad about Erik's disturbing behavior, and Dad has blinders on to anything other than the Erik Fisher Football Dream. Being from Florida and seeing how it has been destroyed by developers and people from up north, I really had empathy for the story.

stanleyjm59 | Student

Lake Windsor gives off the appearance of an idyllic town, but that perfection is build on a non-existent foundation and hides danger and darkness underneath. In the same way, Paul's family appears to be perfect, with one child expected to be a star football player, yet Paul lives in constant fear of his brother, and has no real recourse because his parents are so blinded by their older son's success. His discovery that his brother caused his vision loss and his parents and brother concealed the truth about how it happened mirror the sinkhole that collapses part of the town. The foundation that Paul had build his life upon has crumbled, exposing the ugly truth about his family.  

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