Paul's Case Literary Analysis

Gabrielle Agola

Point of View

The image of the puzzle represents the jumbled nature of Paul's mind. The narration is in a confined third person, rarely ever straying from Paul's self-absorbed and scornful perspective. In his rash and short-lived quest for an extravagant lifestyle, the reader witnesses Paul's increasingly manic and obsessive tendencies.

Characterization

The image of this old man represents how Paul is charazterized by the drawing-master. His face is described as "drawn and wrinkled like an old man's about the eyes." The drawing-master's observation describes more than just a physical quality of Paul's: it is a statement about Paul's psychological state. Paul is weary, withered, and despondent.

Setting

This image of a typical city apartment emphasizes the ambiguity and bleakness of Paul's life. Paul is disgusted at the life by which he is surrounded. By repetition of detail, Willa Cather shows the reader the aspects of Paul's life which anger him the most. He observes the mundane features of his home and the people around him and in doing so the reader can empathize with his resentment. He is disdainful of those who live in similar circumstances as he does, and he diverts himself from this world by working as an usher at Carnegie Hall. His distinct emotional attachment to the art he is exposed to shows that Paul is in fact capable of caring, but only when the things he cares about affect him directly.

Symbolism

The snow in the trainyard acts as a blanket, burying the landscape. It is symbolic in that it represents Paul's bleak outlook on his circumstances. Paul buries his carnation in the snow, laying to rest every dream and machination alike.

Theme

The incessant need for instant gratification rarely solves our problems; instead, these superficial desires tend to expose our deepest insecurities. The image of the tuxedo symbolizes Paul's desire for affluence and comfort. He seeks satisfaction; however, the satisfaction he finds through art, music, and his impulsive escapade does not last. Paul realizes that he cannot through any means escape the obscurity that his old life provided him. Regardless of the lavish hotel room, the Opera, or the silver from Tiffany's, Paul is indisputably depressed. He seeks the ultimate escape and realizes too late that life may have been able to afford him consolation to his miseries.

Works Cited

Brooksbank, Ben. Northern Line Train from Edgware Entering Golders Green Station in the Snow. Digital image. Geograph. N.p., 01 Jan. 1962. Web. 08 Feb. 2013.
Brownstone Shadows. Digital image. Fotopedia. Wikipedia, 21 Nov. 2009. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.
Dependent Dementia Woman Old Age Alzheimer's. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 01 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.
Puzzle Cardboard Box Unfinished Mess Unresolved. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 05 Sept. 2012. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.
Tux Man Male Suit Dress Suits Tuxedo. Digital image. N.p., 18 Apr. 2012. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.