Causal Analysis of Pauls Case by Willa Cather

Essay by srbrownCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2004

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"Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have." (Schachtel) "Paul's Case" by Willa Cather, is a story of a young man that lives in a world in which he feels he does not belong. According to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Paul could be "suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder, which is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, the need for admiration, and the lack of empathy." (NAMI) His desire for this prestigious air is his downfall and eventually leads to his demise. There are three causes which work together to cause Paul to commit suicide. Paul's suicide stems from his total isolation from those that he deems as common, his unfulfilled desire to impress his peers, and his fervent obsession with what is glamorous.

The first reason that Paul is unhappy is that he is completely isolated from the society he lives in because he believes that the people in his social class are common and dull.

Paul is a self-oriented boy, concerned with money, wealth, and glamour. He lives on Cordelia Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "It [is] a highly respectable street, where all the houses [are] exactly alike, and where businessmen of moderate means begot and rear large families of children...; all of whom [are] as exactly alike as their homes, and of a piece with the monotony in which they live." (Cather 82) He is not content with his house on Cordelia Street and is always dreaming about how he wants his life to be while he works at Carnegie Hall and watches the actors and actresses move about in their stately attire and live in the most luxurious of hotel suites. Paul feels that his father, teachers, and classmates who misunderstand him are not worthy of his presence...