A Bad Case

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In Willa Cather’s Paul’s Case, the author suggests that if a person can’t find his right role in society, he will try to escape it or failing to escape it will destroy himself. This story depicts a young man Paul who hates his ordinary life, and escapes to a luxury life he has been desiring eventually commits a suicide. The various settings of this story not only clearly reflect Paul’s sentiments between depression and happiness through different location but also reinforce the reason why Paul takes such a self-destructive action. To begin with, Cather uses a big portion of her story to describe Paul’s school and his home, which both are essential to a person’s life. Although Paul appears to be a polite young man at school, he always lies to try to get away from punishment. From the school setting, one gains understanding that Paul hates school because he shows little interest in study. When Paul returns back to his home on the Cordelia Street in Pittsburg, which is a respective community, he sadly notices that all the houses are identical, and everyone lives the same life (217). Paul has never walked through Cordelia Street without a shudder of loath (217). This setting shows that Paul dislikes his living condition, but what he fails to realize is that people are actually working hard to live this so-called boring life. This dismayed feeling is furthered by the ugly décor at Paul’s home. Home is a person’s safety nest; however, one gets the ugly image of Paul’s home: “his upstairs room and its horrible yellow wall-paper…greasy plush collar-box” (217). The reader also sees the pictures of George Washington and John Calvin, which his father hangs over his bed, shows that Paul’s father’s had high hope for his son. Paul doesn’t seem to show any reaction but disgust. He doesn’t mind listening to the story of a successful cash boy’s luxury life, but “has no mind for the cash-boy stage” (219). From the settings of Paul’s school and home, it’s not hard to find...
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