Glasses and Vision
The fact that Paul’s vision is poor serves as a metaphor. He may not see external things as well as most people, but he is clear-eyed about internal things. He has a lot of insight into his own situation and into the character and motivation of others. In ancient Greek literature there was the figure of the blind seer, the man who could see nothing in the external world but whose inner eye was open, enabling him to have wisdom. Paul is a little like this. The metaphor of Paul’s poor eyesight and the glasses he wears as representing inner vision is made explicit in the following passage. Paul recalls a time several years prior, after his eyes were first injured. He is fitted with some new glasses: “That was when I started to see better. From that day on, I could see things that they could not. I could see Erik posing in front of them, in the shining light of the Football Dream” (p. 168).
Soccer as War
The soccer games that Paul is involved in are marked by a considerable amount of violence and an attitude that soccer is like war; indeed, that itis war. The Tangerine Middle School team is called the War Eagles. As Paul says on his first trip to a game: “Of course, it wasn’t really a game. It was a war” p. (118), and several descriptive passages emphasize this. As they huddle on the field before the second half begins, they chant “War Eagles! War Eagles!” and then go into a “frenzied cry of ‘War! War! War!’” (p. 136). After the game against Paletto Middle School, the War Eagles’ captain, Victor, stands like a warrior hero after a great battle: “Victor staggered back to his feet and stood at the penalty line . . . mud coating his entire body, blood streaming down from a cut over his eye” (p. 123). The soccer as war metaphor was quite deliberate on the part of the author. Bloor writes in “Soccer, Tangerine, and Me,” a short essay about his own experience of playing soccer,which is included as an appendix to the novel, “Practically everywhere on earth, people are ready to scream and fight and riot over . . . soccer.” He also points out that in one case, a tension-filled World Cup soccer game between El Salvador and Honduras in 1969 did actually lead to a two-week war between the two countries.