Paul's Case Literary Analysis
Point of View
Some of the symbols were already discussed in relation to the setting. However, there were a few other important ones. The first and most important is the carnation. Paul wears a red carnation when he goes to speak to his teachers. He also picks one up to wear when he is in New York. By adopting this as his signature finish to his wardrobe, Cather tells the reader a few things about Paul. Carnations are beautiful, and do represent a certain amount of civility and sophistication, as all flowers do. However, it is cheaper than a rose. It has an air of wanting to show class, but not being willing pay for it. This is very much like Paul, who wishes to be sophisticated, but cannot necessarily afford the rose.
Another symbol is the snow that the carnation is laid in. Snow, as part of the winter archetype, represents death, endings, and hopelessness. However, it also can have its own connotations of purity and innocence, like a clean snow fall. In this case, it is a combination of both. The snow encompasses the carnation, which represents Paul, just like death will wrap around Paul. Despite this, the snow offers the carnation a pure, clean resting place, just like death protects Paul before the world ruins him.
The final major symbol used by Cather is the train. Trains represent travel, and that is in fact the mode of transport that Paul takes to New York. It is of interest that this is how Paul chooses to die. In a symbolic manner, being killed by the train represents how Paul's quest for what he couldn't reach ruined his only chance at a happy life.