In Tangerine, did Paul Fisher have any friends in Houston, Texas?

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liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

That's a good question! He probably didn't have any friends in Houston, and here's why I think so.

The novel begins as Paul and his family are moving from Texas to Florida, and you'd think that a kid like Paul would think often of his own friends back in Texas while he was packing, moving, and making new friends. But he doesn't mention them, and he doesn't call or email any Houston friends after he moves.

We do know that Paul was on a soccer team back in Texas, so he had that opportunity to make friends, but we also know that his older brother stuck him with the nickname "Eclipse Boy" ever since Paul entered kindergarten--and we assume that Paul probably had trouble shrugging off that identity and making friends. But there's no mention of Paul's own Houston friends or the lack thereof throughout the novel, as far as I can tell.

We get a hint on page 109 about Paul's lack of friends back in Houston when Paul hints that, even on his Houston soccer team, he rarely got a chance to make contact with the ball. So we assume that Paul was a rather minor player on his team, not exactly popular. And then on page 124, Paul seems shocked to be extended an offer of friendship from the members of his new soccer team at Tangerine Middle School. The implication is that no one has ever quite accepted him before. Also, on page 140, Paul also seems shocked that a girl might actually be interested in him despite his dorky glasses. Page 181 describes Paul's family in a state of total surprise, as if it's the first time it happens, when someone says he was glad to meet Paul.

All this is evidence for the idea that Paul may have been friendless back in Houston. Whenever Paul does recall any memories from Houston, they're always focused on his vision, his relationship with his brother, and his struggle to recall what actually happened that damaged his eyesight.