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Pauls Case

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Paul's Case"

A Symbolic Perception

Imagine being entrapped in a life that you did not feel you belonged in. That is

the story of Paul in "Paul's Case," written by Willa Cather. He lived in a suburban

home where everyone seemed the same and there was a feeling of despair. Paul, who

was a young man, felt that his father, teachers and classmates misunderstood him and

therefore were unworthy of his company. In the story there are many symbolic

elements. Flowers, for instance, symbolize Paul's personality and life. The parallel

between the boy and the flowers is made by the author many times throughout the

short story.

In the beginning of the story Paul has a meeting with the teachers of his school

because he was misbehaving. For the meeting Paul shows up wearing "clothes [that]

were a trifle outgrown . . . [with] a red carnation in his buttonhole" (49). This shows his

total disrespect for authority because he is going to get disciplined; and the teachers

thought this "was not properly significant of the contrite spirit befitting a boy under the

ban of suspension" (49)." The flower he wore shows that he does not care about

school or his teachers: his teachers felt "that his whole attitude was symbolized by his

shrug and his flippantly red carnation flower" (50). The principal also noted his conceit

as he left the meeting and bowed which was described to be "a repetition of the

scandalous red carnation" (51). It is almost as if the flower is his strength and reminds

him of his need to be with a different class of people.

Paul worked as an usher at Carnegie Hall. This was the only place where he

really felt himself unfold. He became lost in the music, plays, and art. While Paul was

at home, he would dream about the life he believed himself to be living as "a morbid

desire for cool things and soft lights and fresh flowers" (55). To Paul, people who

enjoyed having the presence of flowers seemed to be of a higher class above the rest.

That is why he always wore a flower. He describes his neighbourhood, the people he

despises

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