The Character of Paul in Willa Cather's "Paul's Case"
Pulitzer Prize winner author Willa Cather's story Paul's Case tells the story of a boy, Paul, who is disgusted by his current situation. He admires and envies the wealthy people that he encounters during his employment as an usher at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, and considers their lives to be perfect. He is suspended from school early in the story for being disruptive, that is, voicing his opinions on school and anything else he considers below him during class. It's not surprising then, that other people find him offensive because of his blatant disregard for their feelings and even their existence. (Cather 135) So disgusted he is with his surroundings, that he steals a large sum of money from his employers and heads to New York City to live a life of luxury. Unfortunately for Paul, they catch on after eight days, and his father sets out to retrieve him. When Paul learns of this, he takes a cab out into the countryside and wanders, eventually collapsing exhausted. When he wakes, he hears a train. Being above a place where the rails cut through a hill, he decides to end his life. At the last moment however, he feels the full force of his empty life, and an awful regret. (Cather 135) Paul is a flat character, but his depth is great; in the beginning of the story, he seems to be a confident young man, but later, it is show that he is only mimicking the confidence of the rich that he so admires. He seems to honest at first, but through the authors later description, he is revealed to be dishonest and as wanting to get to New York not only for the luxury, but also to escape his "meshes of lies." (Cather 144)
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