Willa Cather's 'Paul's Case': A Literary Analysis

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Literary Analysis Paul's Case The protagonist in Willa Cather's short story, "Paul's Case," is adolescent named Paul. Paul's problem is that he has trouble following rules. Paul has a problem with various kinds of authorities including his teachers, principal, and father. From Paul's perspective, his problem is society. Society does not conform to him and repeatedly makes attempts on him to conform to it. Paul is disgusted, repulsed, and bored by middle class life in Pittsburgh. Paul's real problem is that he lacks perspective. This is a young man that is ferociously hungry for life outside of a small town or small city, which is partially the reason why he steals $1,000 and flees to New York City. Paul does not have an appropriate outlet through which to explore and channel his exuberant and odd energy. It is only when he is committing suicide by throwing himself in front of an oncoming train that he is capable of imagining a life both outside of the life he left behind, but not so far outside in the margins of society that cannot be a contributing member of society. Paul craves new experiences that expand his horizons and challenge him in ways unknown to him in his life back in Pittsburgh. His lack of perspective keeps him from being available to the myriad of choices he has in life but does not yet see. Ironically, it is only when his life is about to conclude when he realizes how much he wants to live and do. These feelings are often expressed by people who have

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