A Feminist Reading of Paul's Case

1209 WordsJul 9, 20185 Pages
A Feminist Reading of Paul's Case At first glance, it may be considered difficult to give a feminist interpretation of "Paul's Case" by Willa Cather, because there is not much mention of women in the text. However, this fact alone gives good reason for a feminist reading of the story. The lack of the presence of females in this story supports the idea that women were not considered an important part of society during Willa Cather's lifetime. In "Paul's Case," the story revolves around a young male. He is the main character. There are very few mentions of women, however, when they do come into the story they are only mentioned briefly, or they play minor, secondary characters. Paul's mother and sisters are spoken about once…show more content…
Evidence of this notion in "Paul's Case" appears when Paul is thinking about the actress in the play. The soloist chanced to be a German woman, by no means in her first youth, and the mother of many children; but she wore an elaborate gown and a tiara, and above all she had that indefinable air of achievement, that world-shine upon her, which, in Paul's eyes, made her a veritable queen of Romance. Obviously, this description of the woman makes her something that is attractive or alluring to Paul. Later, he sees her with a man, "the singer came out, accompanied by the conductor, who helped her into her carriage and closed the door with a cordial auf Wiedersehen, which set Paul to wondering whether she were not an old sweetheart of his." When he sees this, the first thing he considers is their sexual relationship, as if that were the only kind of relationship a man could (or should) have with a woman. The perception of a woman as a sexual object is accepted during this time. Many other views of women which were held during Cather's life time can be seen through Paul, and his attitude towards women. Apparently, Paul does not like women. This fact is evident in his treatment of his teachers. First, during class, "his English teacher had stepped to his side and attempted to guide his hand. Paul had started back with a shudder and thrust his hands violently behind him. The astonished woman could scarcely have been more hurt and embarrassed had he struck at
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