Paul's Case Literary Analysis

Jennifer Hesse

Point Of View

The story "Paul's Case" by Willa Cather is told from omniscient point of view. It supports the theme by having different peoples' opinions to get the full story to see how Paul does not fit into society. Omniscient shows how his teachers, co-workers, and even his own father see him as an outcast. The teachers thought he was a troublemaker and knew he did not get along with his classmate. The people who Paul worked with were always mean to him and they thought he took his job too seriously, so they beat him up. The audience knows the father disapproves, because of the insight we get from Paul himself. Paul has a memory that the speaker brings up describing the time Paul thought his father was going to shoot him. This picture represents omniscient because it is a large crowd of people to represent how omniscient can be different from the views of different people.


Throughout the story, the audience learns that Paul has a different mindset than everyone else. His intensity is portrayed through the many examples of him "losing himself" in a work of art or a certain piece of music. Paul escapes reality when this occurs and thinks everything in life is okay. This supports the theme because his characterization describes his intensity, and explains why people think he is strange and different. The picture below represents Paul's love for music and art, and how that is the only thing where he thinks he belongs.


There are various settings in the story "Paul's Case." He travels from his school, to Carnegie Hall, to New Jersey, and finally to New York. These settings support the theme because it shows no matter where Paul goes, he doesn't belong anywhere. At school, his classmates and teachers don't appreciate him. His co-workers think he is abnormal and too intense, and his dad doesn't approve that he is homosexual. When he gets to New York, he thinks that is where he belongs, but he ends up just as lonely as before. This picture represent New York in the winter time helping portray the fact that he was "supposed" to belong there, but he didn't.


Through the symbols of money and carnations, Paul's alienation is supported. Money plays a big symbol in this story because Paul believes he can fit into society if he has money, but this is proven wrong when Paul finds himself in New York as an outcast. He grew up thinking money was the answer to his problems, and he finally realizes that is not the answer. Another symbol includes carnations. They represent cheapness in the world, but it shows that people inspect Paul because they know he is different. This is shown early in the story when the teachers ask him why he is wearing a carnation. The teachers think it is very scandalous that he is wearing the carnation. The picture I chose is a red carnation helping support the theme through symbols.


People who are considered "different" often alienate themselves from anyone who cares, and engage in aggressive behavior trying to fulfill his goals for self-worth. Point of view, the characterization of Paul, setting, and symbolism all help the theme in the story. He alienates himself from everything, and the only thing he really seems to care about is art and music. I chose this picture because many people in the world try to alienate themselves from society, so they do not get wrapped up in societies expectation of who a person "has to be."


Cridland. Crowd. Digital image. Fotopedia. N.p., 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 08 Feb. 2013.

Hans. Marigold Marigold Turckish Turckish Carnation Dead Flower. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 17 Aug. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.

Nemo. Music Two Note Recreation Double Music Notes. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 05 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Feb. 2013.

Nemo. Farm House. Digital image. Pixabay. N.p., 13 Apr. 2012. Web. 8 Feb. 2013.

Smith. New York City in the Winter. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 10 Apr. 2012. Web. 08 Feb. 2013