Paul’s Case: The Setting's Correlation to Paul's State of Mind

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The setting of the short story “Paul’s Case” is clear and appropriate for the story. The East Coast of the United States is where the story takes place. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Newark, New Jersey, and then on to New York, New York, the exact setting differs throughout the story. “…the dull dawn was beginning to show grey when the engine whistled a mile out of Newark” (Cather). At this point in the story, the main character, Paul, is on board a train which has departed from his hometown of Pittsburgh en route to the Jersey City Station. From there, he plans to make his way to the glamorous New York City, a city that he has always dreamed about visiting. “The rumor had reached Pittsburgh that the boy had been seen in a New York hotel, and his father had gone East to find him and bring him home” (Cather). This happens as Paul reads the Pittsburgh paper on the morning of his eighth day in New York. Paul’s father is pursuing him because Paul had left home over a week ago and his father, only now, knows where Paul has ran off to. The setting has a direct correlation to the state of Paul’s mind. For example, in a gloomy Pittsburgh, Paul does anything and everything to get out of the life he is living and escapes to the glamour and high-class life of New York. “…the New York scenes are heavily ironic…as [Paul] luxuriates in the Waldorf” (Wasserman). He does this in an attempt to find a better life for himself and to make himself, ultimately, happy.
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