What is the Erik Fisher Football Dream?  

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The "Erik Fisher Football Dream" is Paul's name for his older brother's plan to earn fame and a college scholarship by playing football.

This theme is central to Tangerine. Paul, the main character and narrator, is almost blind and is initially the underdog of the situation. His parents don't pay much attention to him because they are completely obsessed with Erik's career. They are so consumed with encouraging Erik that they don't seem to notice Erik's disturbing behavior and personality, or perhaps they simply do not wish to see it. They go to great lengths to make sure that his "Football Dream" isn't disrupted. Even though they may deny it, deep down they know that something is wrong with their son.

Erik displays sociopathic tendencies. He and his friend, Arthur, are seen laughing about another football player's accidental death.

In the end, the "Erik Fisher Football Dream" comes crashing down when everyone discovers that he had a hand in the murder of Luis, the brother of a friend of Paul's.

Towards the end of the novel, we discover further proof of Erik's sociopathic tendencies. Paul suddenly remembers that his eyes were not damaged by looking into an eclipse but rather by Erik. Erik and his friend were so angry at being ratted out for spray-painting that they spray-painted Paul's eyes in revenge. Paul is stunned by the memory and confronts his parents, who tell him that they hid the truth because they did not want Paul to hate his brother.

We do not know if this statement is true or not. We do know, however, that Paul's parents spend a lot of time and energy protecting Erik, all in the name of his future football career.

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In the novel Tangerine, the "Erik Fisher Football Dream" is an obsessive plan for Erik, the older brother in the family, to earn fame and a college scholarship by joining the high school football team, becoming the star player, getting featured in the local paper for his skills, etc.

Erik himself is constantly thinking about his potential football career, but his father, Mr. Fisher, is perhaps even more obsessive over it. We learn in the first chapter of the novel (titled "Friday, August 18," on page 11) that Mr. Fisher even plans to adjust his work schedule so that he can attend every football practice session with his son. Not just every game--every practice session!

Paul, the younger brother who narrates the story, is already sick of hearing about the Erik Fisher Football Dream by the time the novel opens. Paul himself is a good soccer player and loves sports, but his father never pays much attention to Paul or to his participation in sports--Erik and his football are all Mr. Fisher seems to care about.

If you asked Paul and Erik's parents what the Erik Fisher Football Dream is, they might laugh. The term isn't something they use: it's something Paul uses, privately, in his mind. Knowing all this, we can start to understand the source of much of the conflict within the Fisher family in this novel.

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