Tangerine Metaphors and Similes

Coming of Age (Metaphor)

Tangerine is a story that reflects a young boy’s development as he goes from being afraid of his evil brother to having no fear at all in the face of Erik’s threats. He also goes from not knowing how to speak the truth, to being freed from the lies of his family by bravely calling out Erik’s violence of what it is. In this way, the story can be seen as a metaphor for Paul's coming-of-age and loss of innocence.

Vision and Blindness (Metaphor)

Paul’s near-blindness is a central part of the story. But while he is deemed legally blind, Paul can see better than anyone else what is happening around him. Vision, in Tangerine, is about more than just seeing surfaces. it’s about seeing what lies beneath the surfaces.

Sports Culture (Metaphor)

There’s a clear difference in Tangerine between football and soccer. This difference acts as a critical metaphor for the difference between two different spirits of competition and sports culture. While football is an aggressive sport, often described in the novel for its violence and ugliness, soccer is described by Paul for its beauty and cohesion. While football is the actual source of violence and lies in the novel, soccer is the sport that brings people together.

Class Division (Metaphor)

The tensions between the two communities in Tangerine are a metaphor broader tensions between communities of different classes. As we see the families of Tangerine mistrust the families of Lake Windsor and as we see the Lake Windsor families discriminate against the Tangerine families, we see the ways that class difference divides people generally.

Family Bond (Metaphor)

There are different things that hold families together in Tangerine, some more superficial that others. The Cruz family, and the people of Tangerine town in general, show strong loyalty to their families. They are not only devoted to the family business, but they also stand up for each other by physically taking revenge. The poorer, working families of Tangerine are united by their poverty. In Lake Windsor things are different. It’s the appearance of wealth and sterile middle class perfection that hold the families together—though not very well. The Fisher family is also united around Erik’s football stardom. But this doesn’t go very deep—as Erik turns out to be not much of a star and his personality is sociopathic and cruel. Thus the various degrees of family bonds act as a metaphor for the various levels of superficiality and depth in human society at large.