In the novel Tangerine, why does Cara call Paul?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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In part 2, chapter 8 of Edward Bloor's novel Tangerine we are introduced to the character of Cara under the diary entry of Tuesday, September 26, "later". Cara Clifton calls Paul after he had spoken to his grandmother. She is another "tween", or middle school in-between teenage years who goes to school at Lake Windsor Middle School. Cara is the girlfriend of Paul's friend, Joey.

In this scene, we are given a very vivid stamp of the dynamics that often take place among pre-teens and early teenagers, when they try to ascertain what is their role in a "relationship". The only reason why Cara calls Paul is to freeze-frame him into confessing his feelings and thoughts towards Cara's friend, Kerri Gardner.

The purpose of the call was to pretend to ask Paul how things are going at Tangerine Middle School, and to put him on the spot by asking him whether he is dating anyone over there. Shortly after he says that he isn't seeing anyone, Cara sends Paul regards from Cara's friend Kerri who, according to Cara, says "Hi". When Paul tells Cara to say "hi" back, the girl asks him flat out of he likes Kerri, which puts him on the spot and renders him speechless. When Cara ends the conversation, Paul calls Cara's boyfriend, Joey (who is his friend), and tells him what just happened. Joey thinks that this was all a framing planned by the girls and that he is sure that Kerri was listening on the other line.

The significance of this particular scene is that Paul realizes that he can be liked by girls; far from the low self-esteem that wearing glasses and looking different provokes in him, this is one of the discoveries that he makes where he notices that he can be a regular kid, after all, and that girls may be attracted to him regardless of what he looks like. He is OK.

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