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Paul's Case: A Study in Temperament

Paul's Case: A Study in Temperament


by Willa Cather

Paul's Case: A Study in Temperament Theme of Art and Culture

Someone hand him a green carnation and call him an aesthete, because Paul is all about Art for Art's Sake. He's got a job as an usher at Carnegie (Music) Hall, he spends his free time studying art, and he hangs out at the local theater. Great, right? As far as after-school activities go, art is pretty mild. Only problem is, the more time Paul spends at the theater, the worse he feels about his grungy home—and the more worried his teachers and his dad become. Turns out, they're right to worry. In "Paul's Case," art and music are just as likely to lead you down the wrong path as any other teenage rebellion.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. Paul isn't an artist, but loves to experience art and to be around artists. Does the story give any suggestions about why he is not drawn to be an artist?
  2. Does the text offer any judgment on whether or not Paul's father was right to take him away from the theater?
  3. What role, overall, do art and music appear to play in Paul's life? What does he see as the role of art?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

"Paul's Case" makes a case for the importance of art and music education in schools.

Cather would agree that music and art are fundamentally problematic when used as escapes from our problems.

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