Paul's Case Literary Analysis

Ashley Cimino

Point of View

Paul's Case is told in the third person omniscient point of view. The narrator provides additional information on Paul, like that his mother died and how he felt while in the theater. Cather uses the third person omniscient point of view to express the theme, which is that a false sense of reality can be very harmful to an impressionable mind, by displaying false reality in a way that the main character does not feel. This picture of a window represents the point of view because we read the story as outsiders looking in on Paul's life, without completely understanding why he felt the way he did and what he was prepared to do next.

Osley, Julian. Oriel Window. Digital image. Geograph. N.p., 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.


Paul is a very bored and unsatisfied young man who gets lost in the glamour of the theater, but rejects nearly every thing else. He finds school to be a waste of time and thinks that it will not take him where he wants to go in life, but it seems that he may get a pass from his teachers after they have learned of his mother's death. Because he has lost a close family member, it may be expected that he is more "in touch" with reality than most, but characterization has shown the opposite. This picture represents Paul's desire to escape his uneventful life.

PublicDomainPictures. Window Boredom. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 01 Feb. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.


This short story is set in an average, middle-class neighborhood that Paul absolutely hates. The diction and tone used to describe the neighborhood as "mundane" is an exaggeration used to emphasize that Paul yearns for a new and exciting environment, like the theater. The painfully average neighborhood contributed to the theme by further expressing that Paul had a false sense of reality; he thought glitz and drama of New York was reality. This picture taken from a suburb is a clear representation of the neighborhood that Paul grew to despise. In a way, it shows the "american dream"; a white house with a picket fence outlining the yard and a nice car parked in the drive-way.

M., John. Greenwood Avenue. Digital image. Geograph. N.p., 2010. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.


When he arrives at New York, Paul goes to Tiffany's and the Waldorf Hotel. These two notorious buildings show how Paul has been stuck in a state of perpetual day-dreaming. In relation to the theme, Tiffany's represents Paul's destination in life. New York City is where Paul pictured his life, and it's where he ran when he felt he needed to escape. Fittingly, I chose a picture of Tiffany's & Co. in New York City to as an example of symbolism for Paul's Case.

Wescott, Tim. Tiffany & Co. Digital image. Geograph. N.p., 2008. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.


The theme of this short-story is that a false sense of reality can destroy an impressionable mind. Paul is a young, unsatisfied boy who lost his mother very early in both of their lives. He yearned for more than his average life was providing for him, so he sought out other opportunities like ushering at the local theatre. He didn't think that high school would help him achieve his dreams, and this is possibly the best example portraying his false sense of reality. Had Paul stayed in school, advanced to college and pursued a career with the theatre, he may have reached New York City. Ultimately his actions lead to commit a crime and escaping to his dreamland, NYC, only to commit suicide in an unplanned and dramatic way. A picture of a devastating shipwreck represents the theme because Paul's impulsive actions lead to his suicide.

WikiImages. Pearl Harbor Ship. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 04 Jan. 2013. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.