In "Paul's Case," Paul has a rich fantasy life—so rich that he actually seems to believe the stories he tells about himself. But these daydreams are dragged down by the fact that Paul doesn't have a plan. Well, he manages a pretty good plan for getting the money, but, like someone who just won the lottery, he could really use some good financial advice for managing it. It seems like the only real plan he's ever been able to carry all the way through is ending his own life.
"Paul's Case" paints a fairly negative picture of hopes and dreams.
Cather suggests that a major obstacle in Paul's life is the presence of an adult—like possibly his mother—who would have been sympathetic to his hopes and dreams.