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Tangerine:Novel Summary: Part 1: August 28-30-31

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Part 1

Monday, August 28

This is the first day of school. Paul recalls an incident that took place when he was in kindergarten, when the bigger boys called him Eclipse Boy. He did not know what that meant until later, when he learned that Erik had told everyone that the reason Paul was wearing thick glasses was that he had stared at the sun too long during an eclipse. Paul does not remember doing this, and he knows from photographs that before that summer he never wore glasses at all.


Paul chats with Joey, attends his first class and then reports to the office, as he has been instructed to do. A girl named Kerri Gardner is assigned to guide him round the campus, as he is visually impaired. Paul says he does not need the assistance because he can see well enough, but Kerri is assigned to him anyway. Outside the classroom he tells her that he really does not need her. He explains that he had some kind of accident when he was five years old that affected his eyes. But he cannot explain any more than that, which puzzles him.



The sense of mystery that first appeared in the introduction reappears here. What happened to Paul’s eyes? Paul knows that something happened to him some years ago, when he was in kindergarten, but what was it? He says he accepted the story that he gazed too long at the sun, but it is clear that there is a lot more to the story than he can remember. His brother’s unpleasantness to him, deriding him as Eclipse Boy, comes across loud and clear.


Wednesday, August 30

Erik and his friend Arthur Bauer, who in football practice holds the ball for Erik, are hanging out with Arthur’s sister, Paige—soon to be Erik’s girlfriend, and Arthur’s girlfriend Tina Turreton. The girls are both cheerleaders. The boys kick a football around while the girls sit at a picnic table. Paul knows that Arthur hangs out with Erik solely because he wants some glory from becoming the holder on placekicks taken by Erik.



This section gives a clear picture of Erik’s true character: Erik emerges as a user; he uses Arthur because Arthur has a truck and can drive him around. For some unknown reason, Erik himself does not drive. In Arthur’s turn, he sees Erik as a way to make a name for himself as a holder on placekicks for Erik. He does not have any other talent, so he wants to ride on Erik’s coattails. Meanwhile Paul emerges as the one who has insight, who sees the truth behind people and their relationships.


Thursday, August 31

Paul looks forward to the soccer tryouts and goes running with Joey Costello. They pass Mr. Donnelly’s house, which has been hit by lightning three times. Paul thinks it will be hit again, telling Joey that the Donnelly home used to be the highest spot in the area, before it was developed. That would  have been where the lightning hit. Now the ground has been leveled the lightning remembers the former spot and keeps hitting it. Joey is skeptical of this comment, and Paul isn’t totally sure about it either.



The theme of environmental disruption is developed again here. The tangerine groves have been ploughed under to make way for anew housing development that has altered the layout of the land. But the housing development is nowhere near as secure as the people think it is. And the lightning that strikes the Donnelly home is a foreshadowing of a far more serious tragedy soon to come. 


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