Paul's Case Literary Analysis

Sean Hannifin

Point of View

The point of view in "Paul's Case" is third person limited, because throughout the story it’s narrated by an unseen observer who has the ability to read Paul's emotions and thoughts. This type of point of view helps support the theme because it lets the reader see Paul's thoughts which always revolve around wishing to be wealthier and less associated with his father or middle class. This image helps convey this type of point of view because it represents how another person, other than Paul, is narrating the story.


The characterization of Paul throughout the short story is essential to recognizing and understanding the theme. The theme, which is in order to become wealthy and powerful one must work hard for it, is directly supported by how the author portrays Paul. Paul, in the short story, wants to be wealthy and powerful in order to escape his "middle class life" , but he doesn't want to work for it. For example is school he tells everyone how he's better, smarter, or more influential than the other students because later in life he truly wants to be in the "top" class of people. But, even though he wants this, Paul doesn’t want to have to work for it whether it’s in school or just in life general. This image helps convey and support this device by showing that because it shows how Paul is all the time in school and at home because he wants to be so much but in reality how little he does to achieve these goals.


The different settings throughout the story help support the theme of the short story. For example, when the story takes place in the high school and at his home he acts arrogant and lazy because he sees himself to important or better than the other students to do the school work and to listen to his father. But Carnegie Hall and New York City help fuel Paul's conviction that he wants to escape his life situation and desire to be rich and important so that he can escape his "middle class" situation and thus be surrounded by the arts. So these settings help support my theme because they both emphasis that Paul wants to be wealthy and influential, but he's not willing to the hard leg work to do so. This image of Carnegie Hall helps convey this device because this the setting where Paul falls in love with the arts, which then leads him to want to be wealthy so that he can be surrounded by the arts constantly.


The main object that is used to represent symbolism is the red carnation. The red carnation is shown from the very beginning of the short story until the end. In the beginning of the story the red carnation represents his defiance of the school's authority and his father's authority. But at the end of the short story Paul buries the carnation in the snow before he commits suicide, thus telling the reader that the carnation symbolizes his life and desire. So overall the red carnation symbolizes Paul's fiery attitude toward others. This helps support the theme because while in school and at home he wore this red carnation which symbolized that he defied their authority over him, so he didn't do the work assigned to him. This means that he’s unwilling to do the hard leg work to become wealthy and to be surrounded by the arts. This image helps convey this symbol because in the short story the symbol is a red carnation and in the picture there are red carnations.


Throughout this short story "Paul's Case" there could be a few themes that could be derived from it, but the most prevalent theme that's addressed is the one I chose. The theme in this story was in order to become wealthy and better yourself, one must work hard for it. So the author provided support for this theme by showing the reader how much he loved to be surround be the arts and how much he hated his current situation, but at the same time the author showed the reader that he is not willing to do the work necessary to accomplish his goal by having Paul not doing the school work and by laughing at his father's ways. This image helps convey the theme because Paul throughout wants to "travel" down the path that leads to the rich but his work ethic is more comparable to a person who is lazy or unwilling to work to better themselves (Poor). So this image is a great representation of how Paul was at a fork in his life journey and how he wanted to two things that couldn’t be done together (Rich-Laziness).

Works Cited (Pictures)

200 Cheap Red Carnations. Digital image. GlobalRose. GlobalRose, n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.

Carnegie Hall. Digital image. Liberty Harbor RV. Liberty Harbor RV, 3 Aug. 2002. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.

Erken, Dirk. Poor or Rich Poverty or Wealthy Gamble and Take the Risk to Win or Lose. Digital image. 123RF. 123RF, May 2009. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.

Verty, Alicia. 10 Signs of Suicide Behavior in Young People. Digital image. ITriage. N.p., 25 Jan. 2010. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.