Paul'S Case

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Social Criticism of “Paul’s Case”: Social Class Differentiation In Willa Cather’s short story “Paul’s Case,” we learn of a young man who is struggling with the fear of conforming to a monotonous lifestyle due to his low social class ranking. According to Larry Rubin, “’Paul's Case’ concerns a school-age boy whose flightiness and irresponsibility is exacerbated by the fanciful extravagances represented on the stage and by the glittering allure of celebrity lifestyle” (44). “Paul’s Case” is more than that, with the plain world around him truncates his individuality and artistic dreams, which he aspires to fulfill. His fellow peers and teachers misunderstand Paul, which only encourages him to fulfill his dream of escaping conformity. According to Joan Ross, she describes Paul as, “a sensitive and lonely boy of about seventeen, who is living in a lower class neighborhood in the provincial city of Pittsburgh” (40). Paul feels he is being held back in the conformist environment he lives in. The only thing he has to look forward to, is escaping to the theater. From a Marxist perspective, Paul’s stifled life fuels the fire to rise up against the higher institution, which includes his: Teacher’s, Father, and his Social class forthcomings. The rise of Paul is similar to the proletariat rising up against the bourgeoisies, where the ruling conformist institution stifles his artistic individuality. With adversary come challenges, which Paul faces throughout the short story. Paul has very little interest in his school studies. The lack of enthusiasm for schoolwork leaves him distracted by what his teachers label as “devious defiance”. Although Paul’s appears as a perfect gentleman, his teachers find his behavior inappropriate and unacceptable. One particular incident is when Paul thrusts his hand violently away from the teacher. According to Cather, the teacher was “hurt
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