Paul S Case Critical Essay Examples

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Cather writes here with characteristic restraint. She implies, she understates, she hints, believing that it is important to leave the reader to figure things out and become actively involved in “making” the story. The author purports to be writing a case history and thus aims for an emotionally detached quality in the style. She wants to let the facts speak for themselves, and she concludes without diagnosis or explanation. In spite of her desire not to appear to take sides or to prejudice the reader’s judgment, the nature of this writing brings one close to Paul and not to anyone else. By making the reader intimate with Paul’s thoughts, perceptions, and feelings, she draws the reader’s sympathy to him. The author takes the role of omniscient narrator, so that when she says, “in Paul’s world, the natural nearly always wore the guise of ugliness,” she justifies Paul’s need for artificial beauty. Paul may be deluded and extreme, but the author’s facts about his ugly world are not to be disputed.

Cather also has a special talent for creating the visible, an eye for that detail or mood or scene that calls on her talent and experience as a journalist when she wrote for a Pittsburgh paper and later for McClure’s magazine. She characterizes Paul’s thoughts of home by “damp dish towels” and shows the reader the champagne in his glass at his hotel dinner as “cold, precious, bubbling stuff that creamed and foamed in his glass.” By the use of such images and the vivid language conveying them, Cather is able to convey what Paul sees and feels and how intense the conflict must be that causes him to want to die rather than return to the flatness and drabness that he has managed to escape for a little more than a week.

It is interesting to note that the case history had become a vigorous form of psychological writing in the later half of the nineteenth century and has in the twentieth century established itself as a major story form, particularly in the genre of crime and detective fiction. Clinical case histories have escaped the confines of medical reports and obtained a wide, popular audience.

An Analysis of Paul's Case by Willa Cather

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An Analysis of Paul's Case


In "Paul's Case" by Willa Cather, a young man named Paul is unhappy with his home and school life. He is happiest when he is at Carnegie Hall, where he works as an usher. When he is not physically at Carnegie Hall, his thoughts remain there causing his school work to suffer. When his father finds out about his problems in school he has Paul banned from Carnegie Hall, taken out of school, and put to work. One day, while on his way to make the company's deposit, Paul decides to take some of the money and go to New York to experience the life he feels he was destined for. Unable to cope with the punishment for taking the money he commits suicide. The central idea in this story is that it takes patience and perseverance to accomplish your dreams, and you should not give up on them.
The main character in this story is a tall, thin teenager named Paul. He is very unhappy with his common life and does not want end up working in a factory like his father. He creates stories to make his life seem lavish which results in him not having a close relationship with anyone in his life. To fill that void he chooses to spend most of his time at Carnegie Hall. Paul really "lives" when he is ushering there and constantly dreams of living the life of the performers that he sees.
Paul's father is a single parent trying to raise his children in a respectable neighborhood. He is a hard worker and trying to set a good example for his son. His father puts pressure on Paul by constantly referring to a neighbor, whom he feels is a perfect model for his son to follow.
The teachers at the school do not understand Paul's behavior. They feel Paul is disrespectful and a nuisance, and they have given up on him. Unlike the teachers, the people at Carnegie Hall have not given up on Paul and see a future for him in the theater industry.

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The conflict that Paul faces is that he has a life that he feels is unsuited for him and he wants to live more extravagantly. Instead of working towards that dream by finishing school and earning his way to the top, he makes a foolish decision and loses everything. Paul feels that this decision is the only solution to his problems, and when he realizes this only temporarily fulfills his dreams, he gives up and decides to take his own life.



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