Indeed, many a times, the cheerful exterior hides the treacherous thoughts and conflicts that could lead to dangerous outcome.
Cather’s characterization of Paul as a deviant personality is highly intriguing. It raises pertinent questions of adjustment of the same within the parameters of social controls like family institution and educational institutes. Paul’s disdain towards these social institutions is serious in its content. The main reason being the authorities fail to understand the reasons behind his continued misdemeanors. Despite the threats of expulsion from the school, Paul exhibits a careful indifference for the rules. When he is called to the Principal’s office for explanation, all the teachers come together against him. Indeed, Cather’s observation that the stoic demeanor of Paul forces the teachers to be ‘humiliated to have felt so vindictive toward a mere boy’.
The author’s portrayal of Paul encompasses diverse human emotions that are difficult to understand by the people, especially by his teachers. Indeed, the inability to reform a ‘mere boy’ is not only frustrating for the teachers but it also shows a decisive lack of will to understand the complex nature of Paul. Paul’s relationship with his father and sister is also not very cordial. The confined environment of his home and conservative attitude of his father are shown as major issues. Through Paul’s story, the author is probably trying to show how the society tries to manipulate the characters of the young people and suppress their natural inclinations.
Paul is hugely attracted to the imagery lives of artists. he portrays the surrealist of the character through his role of ‘usher of the theatre’ where he imagines himself in the company of the artists and celebrities. Interestingly his make believe world becomes his only medium of being happy. When Paul’s lies and deceit are revealed, he is taken out of the school. But Paul, as the