Paul's Case

1244 WordsOct 15, 20085 Pages
Laura Clauser 9/18/2008 Lit 42 The Emotional Place of “Paul’s Case” The main character, a challenging adolescent boy named Paul, has an almost inexplicable ability at irritating every person he comes in contact with. He finds his education trivial, a sense of superiority towards his peers, and a general distaste for everything in his suburban neighborhood on Cordelia Street. At first glance, Paul appears to be suffering from the typical adolescent angst. However, his actions and frame of mind are better defined by Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPR). Paul demonstrates several symptoms of this mental illness such as, “preoccupation with fantasies that focus on unlimited success, power, intelligence, beauty or love, the belief…show more content…
He takes his obsession of proving to his peers how special he is by showing them “autographed pictures of all the members of the stock company…telling them of his familiarity with these people” (Cather 219). However, in actuality, his contact and similarities with the actors of Carnegie Hall is minimal, and he remains an outsider. He is removed from the actual life of these people, but feels he is engaged in it. By thinking of himself extraordinarily, but having no aspirations, Paul becomes “the adolescent longing for something-anything-different. Defiantly unproductive, he fails to “develop” himself” (Herring). Paul ignores his lack of talents and focuses his sense of superiority above the population of Pittsburgh to his interpersonal relations with the actors at Carnegie Hall in New York City. While Paul may have no talent, or desire for talent, he continues to exhibit his egocentrism behind a cover of arrogance and lack of empathy. Readers of “Paul’s Case” often find it difficult to understand Paul because of his complete disregard for his seemingly good, although ordinary, life. He demeans authority figures, as shown when he answers his school principal’s question about his behavior with, “ ‘I don’t know…I didn’t mean to be polite or impolite, either. I guess it’s sort of way I have of saying things regardless” (Cather 212). He clearly shows no remorse for how he may have hurt someone’s feelings or humiliated them.
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