Paul's Case Literary Analysis

Jack Sheehan


This is an image of Carnegie Hall, a major setting in the story.

The different settings in "Paul's Case" reveal different aspects of Paul's character. The scene at Carnegie Hall is the only location where Paul shows any signs of enjoyment. Carnegie Hall is noted as a, "Warm, lighted building... a tropical world of shiny, glistening surfaces and basking ease," Clearly this is a positive place for paul to be, and brings out his pure happiness. Contrastly, the school brings an overall negative feeling. Paul is verbally abused by his teachers, and the building is described as a very unattractive place. It has "Bare floors, and naked walls" which contribute to the ugliness of the school. It also shows the overall ugliness of Paul's life.

Point of View

This is an example of objective point of view.

"Paul's Case" is told in an objective point of veiw, which is a type of third person. Basically in Objective, the reader is just given the facts about the story. By writing in this style the author can both portray Paul's feelings about a situation, and show how others feel around him through their actions. An example of this objective view would be the scene where paul talks to his principle.


This is an image of a person alienated from society, like Paul.

The major theme in "Paul's Case" is alienation. Paul is really isolated from society, and can't function well with people. Although Paul seems to fit in at Carnegie Hall, he still really doesn't have any close friends, or good relationships with anybody. When Paul meets the young man form Yale, they begin to have a good conversation, reminiscing on a good time, but they end up parting coldly, which further contributes to the theme. Paul doesn't see the world "normally" as others would, so he is an outcast for it.


This is a frowning face that portrays Paul's life.

Paul is guy who just isn't comfortable in his own skin. Paul hates people outside Carnegie Hall, and views them as uncultured individuals. It's this general hate for society that drives Paul into a state of isolation. Paul also has self destructive behaviors throughout the story. At the beginning he just submerges himself at the theatre to get away from society, and he has suicidal behavior towards the end of the novel. A prime example of Paul's character is the scene where he imagines his father regretting not killing Paul. This conveys the general distortion of Paul's life.


This is a picture of a red carnation, the biggest symbol in the story.

The red carnation represents Paul's life as a whole. In the story his teacher's feel the red carnation symbolizes his overall defiant attitude. His "shrug and flippantly red carnation" can be taken as Paul. When Paul buries the flower it ultimately symbolizes his death as he proceeds to jump in front of a train.