"Paul's Case" AEC Chart Flyer

By: Shannon Dalli, 2-A

Point of View

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"Paul's Case" is in the third person omniscient point of view due to the fact that the author includes not only the thoughts of the protagonsit, but of the other characters, for example the author shares the thoughts of not only Paul, but other characters such as his teachers. By the author providing the reader with the feelings and thoughts of Paul and the other characters the theme is enhanced siginificantly. Paul's thoughts portray to the reader the desperation he feels towards his school life and his life on Cordelia Street; his thoughts also convey his appreciation for the artificial life of the rich. The thoughts of the other characters provide the reader with a better understanding of how other people view Paul and his actions. This image conveys the point of view because in third person omniscient the story is narrated by someone who isn't involved in the plot, but watches everything and reports on it. The eye with the world in the background represents point of view because the narrator in this particular point of view sees and knows everything.


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Paul is characterized as a very skinny and tall teenager who is very unique and could be categorized as "hysterically brilliant" (pg. 234). He is also described as having wide, glassy looking eyes with huge pupils. Paul never seems to be satisfied with his life and is so focused on portraying someone who is confident that he never deals with his problems and the desperation he feels in his life. He is also portrayed as someone who has a low self-esteem; this evident whenever he looks into the mirror and winks at himself. This device fits in with the theme statement due to the fact that one of Paul's character flaws is that he is always looking at the natural occcurrences of his life in an unflattering manner and looks at the life that he doesn't have in a pleasant way. The image portrays the characterization of Paul because Paul is described as having large eyes that show his uncertainity about his life.


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The setting of "Paul's Case" consists of several different places; New York City, Pittsburgh High School, Carnegie Hall, and Cordelia Street. Each of the different places featured throughout the story either represent the beautiful life that Paul yearns for or the life that Paul wants to get away from. Carnegie Hall and New York City represent the artificiality that Paul believes is necessary for beauty; they also represent the places that Paul travels to in order to seperate himself from the reality of his everyday life. Cordelia Street and Pittsburgh High School are used to show the theme because both places represent the life that Paul wants to escape due to his feelings of desperation. The image of New York City at night conveys the setting because for a portion of the story Paul is in New York City trying to seperate himself from the "drowning" sensation he experiences at home.


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Throughout "Paul's Case" the author uses symbolism in order to convey Paul's personality, the events that occur in his life, and the theme of the story. The red carnation that appears in Paul's button hole at the beginning of the story and in his coat at the end of the story represents Paul because like the "scandalous red carnation" Paul is very different, he doesn't fit in and he is unusual. The wilting red carnation at the end of the story symbolizes Paul's proximity to death and the defeat he feels in the "losing game" that is his life. Cordelia Street symbolizes the despair and the "drowning" feelings that Paul experiences in the life that he currently has. Carnegie Hall and the time that Paul lives in New York symbolizes Paul's dreams and desires; they also symbolize the life that Paul so desperately wants. The train station featured at the end of the story represents the crossroads in Paul's life and th eultimate decision he has to make. Cather's utilization of symbols throughout the story represent the theme because they portray the artificial beauty of the lives of the rich that Paul so desperately craves. The image of the red carnation conveys symbolism because the red carnation is used as a symbol for Paul.


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The theme of "Paul's Case" is: As humans we crave the artificial beauty of the lives others have rather than recognizing the beauty of the everyday occurrences of life. The theme is evident throughout the story especially when Paul is making observations about the lives of the "smartly clad men and women so attractive"in Carnegie Hall. Paul constantly craves the life of those in Carnegie Hall and believes that in order for something to be considered beautiful there must be "a certain element of artificiality." The image of the barbie doll conveys the theme because it places emphasis on Paul's belief that artificiality is needed in order for him to see something as beautiful.

Works Cited

Alternative World Vision. Digital image. Open Clip Art Library. N.p., 2 Aug. 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2013. http://openclipart.org/detail/153325/alternative-world-vision-by-dado9ch.

Cathrae, Martin. Eyes Open. Digital image. Flickr.com. N.p., 15 Nov. 2008. Web. 13 Feb. 2013. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/suckamc/3037230771/>.

New York City Center. Digital image. Fotopedia.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.


Skyline. Digital image. Flickr.com. N.p., 2009. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographyburns/3364664112/.

Stock, Dori. Red and pink carnations. Digital image. Deviantart. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2013. http://fc09.deviantart.net/fs28/i/2008/051/0/6/Pink_Carnations_3_by_Dori_Stock.jpg.