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Paul's Case, An Essay

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Mark McLaughlin


“Paul's Case” An Essay

“Paul's Case” by Willa Cather, is a case of a suicide. Paul, the main character of this story, displayed many warning signs to the readers of his psychological state of mind, but did he show the typical warning signs of a suicide? He most diffidently did not. This is not a text book case of suicide and is rather shocking. The typical psychological warning signs of a suicide, taken from, ,are acting withdrawn, reckless, abusing alcohol, suffering form a major loss, and verbal warnings. Of course, this is a generic list and Paul fits into most of this categories in some way or another, but he did not warns us verbally. On the contrary, in the story's dialog and in his thoughts, he makes us think he enjoys a certain way of life and deems everything else meaningless and dull. These makes the conclusion of this short story quite unexpected .

Paul always had an idea of the kind of person he wanted to be. It is mentioned in the quote, “Everything [Paul's new clothes, and accommodations] was perfect; he was exactly the kind of boy he had always wanted to be”. This, “kind of boy”, is the clue reveling that in his mind, the image of himself had a perception of which was different of what he was at Cordelia Street. The challenge of life is to become what you want to be and he had that desire to be more than he was. Psychologically, that desire is the drive that takes us to new levels of live, to be all that you can be. It doesn't make sense that he fought and stole money to be, “exactly the kind of boy he had always wanted to be”, and then, in the end, commit suicide. He finely achieved the dream and idea he had for fought and in all typical behavior, one would strive to keep.

Paul found himself in the place that he loved. He knew where it was all along and realized, “this was what the world was fighting for, he reflected; this was what all the struggle was about”. He was not lonely or self-conscience. He was not depressed or acting at all like he wanted to kill himself. When the fight of life became action for Paul, he chose life, not death, therefore found himself in the place where he always new “explained him”. He always felt different from the rest at home, which is stereotypical



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