Paul's Case Literary Analysis

Megan Almeda

Point of View

The author uses third person omniscient in order to inform the reader on the feelings and actions of Paul, Paul's teachers, and Paul's father. Hearing the story from several viewpoints puts emphasis on Paul's emotional struggles. It gives the readers an emotional connection with Paul because we can feel what he experiences. The thoughts of other characters are introduced for the purpose of informing the reader on Paul's personality traits and desperation that eventually lead to his death.
The image of three circles intertwined represents the point of view of the teachers, Paul, and Paul's father in the story. They all equally play a part in conveying the emotional responses and theme.


The reader realizes that Paul is depressed as the story progresses. He hides his feelings behind his obsessions of music, art, and money. Although Paul is independent, he is still affected by the opinions and remarks of his teachers and peers. He is hopeless and desperate. His emotions cause him to isolate himself and later commit suicide.
The music note represents Paul's character. Paul felt most alive when he was around music and theater. His favorite place to be was Carnegie Hall, and this is where he found beauty in life.


The setting began in court before the faculty of the Pittsburgh Highschool where Paul sits before the principal and teachers of which he has disobeyed. Then he goes to the theater, Carnegie Hall, where he works as an usher. He finds comfort in this artsy environment. He walks home on Cordelia Street, where he shows his hatred toward its typical and perfect environment. He then goes to New York where he accomplishes all that he has ever imagined. His journey ends with his suicide at the train station. Each setting reveals Paul's character traits and mindset.
The railroad represents Paul's final destination. Paul spent his life in alienation until he decided to take his own life by an oncoming train.


The red carnation symbolizes Paul's individuality and defiance. Paul refuses to fit in. The carnation represents his view on life, being disrespectful and unappreciative of the life he lives. He is wrapped up in his own depression and fantasies. It also foreshadows his suicide where the carnations die in the cold and are buried in the snow.
The carnation represents the biggest symbol in Paul's case. It represents Paul's life.


Paul hates living in the ordinary. He doesn't enjoy how everything is always the same. Paul tends to isolate himself and pretends to be someone else around his classmates. He dreams of a life different than the average teenager. He wants a life full of art, experience, and edge. He is dissatisfied with his life, which leads to his actions later in the story. He tries to live out fantasies that he is not prepared for.
The house represents ordinary, middle-class life. Paul alienated himself for the reason that he did not like how mundane everything was. The middle-class homes and neighborhoods disgusted him. He needed more beauty and creativity in his life.

Works Cited

Hans. Marigold Marigolds Turkish Carnation Dead Flower. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 30 July 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.
Hans. Seemed Track Wooden Sleepers Train Travel Railway. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 27 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.
Nemo. Building House Home Cartoon Window Door Chimney. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 7 May 2012. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.
Nemo. Building House Home Cartoon Window Door Chimney. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 7 May 2012. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.
Nemo. Three Sign Black Rings Symbol White Circles Ring. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 14 Apr. 2012. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.