"Paul's Case" by Willa Cather

Essay by kj99999College, UndergraduateA, March 2006

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"Paul's Case" is a short story written by Willa Cather in 1905. It is about a boy in

his late teens who is forced to cope with a society that he does not want to fit into. We learn about his struggle to be a nonconformist which eventually leads to his suicide. So, does Paul have a case? Well, that is for each individual reader to decide.

Paul fights many internal and external battles throughout the story. He struggles against his father, teachers, principal, students, Cordelia Street, and even the society that he lives in. These are all obstacles stopping Paul from being himself. Paul represents intellectualism, individualism, and nonconformity. He aspires to be a "world-shine," explanation about what world shine means. The title of the story, "Paul's Case," refers to the word "case" in more than one way. It uses "case" in a way to say that there is a side to Paul's story, or Paul aspirations and dreams do make sense.

Willa Cather understands that Paul has a case and, throughout the story, sympathizes with him very much.

Paul's personality is that of an artist. Not only is Paul a lover of arts and beauty, but he is very much individualistic, a quality commonly found in artists. However, Paul lives in a society full of conformists, just ants marching in a line. Paul's father and teachers are always pushing him to be like rest of the group, to be just another kid living on Cordelia Street. Paul's father encourages Paul to be a business man, to go about every day just the same as the last. Paul has other plans for himself, and he takes his dreams into his own hands.

This story is a very simple story if the reader refuses to read...