Willa Cather's short story "Paul's Case" - Essay Example

Only on StudentShare

Extract of sample
Willa Cather's short story "Paul's Case"

His work as an usher takes him away from his drab surroundings and into another world where the music reveals the "potent spirit within him". Paul's world is built upon untruths. Paul does not care to join in the world of music and drama; he is satisfied just to live vicariously through its proximity. Paul feasts off the efforts of others. For Paul the whole world is all lies, and the theater is one more of Paul's illusions. For Paul it was easy and necessary for overcoming the difficult task of effort.
The theater is not only his escape from school, but also from Cordelia Street. Cordelia Street is the symbol of the "colorless mass of everyday existence". Paul can not subscribe to the middle class and could never be a clerk. He would never become one of the "rivets in the machine" that his father had. Paul wanted to be at the top "though he had no mind for the cash-boy stage". Paul needs more. Paul immerses himself in the drama of the theater with fanatical tales of his exaggerated importance. Fearing that Paul had wandered too far from the center of normality, his father demands that he be put to work. Alienated from school by the strict teachers, from home by his father's dismal existence and banished from the theater Paul creates a new illusion. ...
Download paper


Willa Cather's short story "Paul's Case" is a story of a young man, wise beyond his years, and caught in an infantile fantasy world. Though the story takes place over the course of a few short months, we see Paul grow from being an insolent student to a hunted criminal…
Author : christiansenbar

Related Essays

Comparison Contrast essay of "Paul's Case" by Willa Cather and "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson and Willa Cather develop the setting of their respective stories to help us understand the environmental forces influencing the characters, drawing upon these forces to show us the power, and influence of society's expectations of our lives. Jackson uses an unknown time and place, which allows the reader to visualize a very old, brutal ritual as if it were occurring in the present. (Jackson) Conversely Cather's story of a delusional boy occurs in a specific city, Pittsburgh, between the years 1900 and 1910, when industries were growing. This almost unregulated growth created a...
2 pages (502 words) Essay
Cathers Paul and Wrights Dave
The reason for Paul and Dave's sense of entrapment stems from their lack of social and economic power. While Paul was born to a middle-class worker who had "a worthy ambition to come up in the world", Dave was condemned to the life of a farm laborer. Disillusioned by their surroundings, both of them felt the need to salvage their situation. Whereas Paul thought money could transform his identity, Dave was misled to believe that owning a gun could help him earn respect.
5 pages (1255 words) Book Report/Review
Literary Analysis of a short story
An initial reading of the text reveals that the plot does not include drama, or extraordinary events; the story might be described as one in which "not much occurs", and the site of the narration is one small house. The narrative is in the first person, meaning that we also see the thoughts of one of the characters. As the plot focuses upon emotional tension and revelation, this first-person narrative is essential in helping the reader to understand the epiphany which is the focus of the story. The plot involves the arrival of a friend of the narrator's wife; he is a stranger to the narrator...
4 pages (1004 words) Book Report/Review
Business and Law - short story
Apart from this she also had to undergo mental stress as she had lost her prestige.
4 pages (1004 words) Case Study
Pauls Case by Willa Cather
The most tragic part in Paul's story is that before deciding on putting an end to his life, Paul is able to reach the second level, but not the final one.
3 pages (753 words) Book Report/Review
Paul's Case
Indeed, many a times, the cheerful exterior hides the treacherous thoughts and conflicts that could lead to dangerous outcome.
2 pages (502 words) Essay
Got a tricky question? Receive an answer from students like you! Try us!