Paul's Case Analysis

Kimberly Kerns

Point of View

The author uses third person omniscient point of view to elucidate the theme by viewing Paul and his life objectively, giving the reader the ability to form their own opinions about Paul and his choices. It establishes contrasts to the frivolity of his imagined life to the reason of real life. This picture is relevant because it shows a whole view of a city: not just the "nice" part or just the "bad" parts. This is how the story of "Paul's Case" is presented.


The author uses characterization of Paul by showing his home life, his school life, and his "Carnegie life." In his home life, which is not bad, Paul views it as below him and dirty or "ugly," disdaining everything his family has. In his school life, Paul's feeling of superiority is further elucidated by showing his contempt for all of the teachers and other students, how he feels that is he above them and that school is a waste of time. In his "Carnegie life," Paul feels at home with all of the "superior" people, and thinks he is one of them. He yearns for that life. This picture is relevant because it shows the mask that Paul wears during school and at home to show that he is "above" everyone, and he only really belongs at Carnegie. He wears the mask of normal Paul, while Carnegie Paul is his true self.


The setting used in this novel is meant to show the contrast between Paul's glamorous imagined life, and real life. New York the apex of style and fashion, can also be the lowest of slums. And while Paul believes that he deserves the apex of style, he thinks that he lives in the slums. When he runs away, this is further elucidated by the contrast between his "ugly" bedroom and the glamorous hotel room. This picture is relevant because it shows a contrast between the rich, colorful, imagined world of Paul and the real only he lives in: the blankness of the one side and the rainbow color of the other.


The symbolism in this novel mainly rests on the red carnation (pictured here), and the snow. The red carnation shows Paul's personality leaking through, his idea of glamour and being above everyone converged in the red, defiant flower. The snow is an agent that wipes everything clean. When Paul throws his red carnation in the snow, it symbolizes his realization that he will never get to lead the glamorous life. Not only is it "cleaning" the idea from his system, it is also erasing it, and him, completely.


Although not always the most glamorous existence, a life based on reality and sensibility will fill a void that a life based on artifice and superficiality will only make worse. This broken egg symbolizes the fragility of Paul's superficial life: it takes very little to break through his shell, and once his shell is broken, it's unreparable.


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