Paul's Case: A Study in Temperament
by Willa Cather
Character Role Analysis
Here's at least part of Paul's problem. No one understands him, and we don't mean in that petulant, adolescent way. Paul literally does not have anyone to look up to. He doesn't want to be like his teachers, pastors, or neighbors; and he definitely doesn't want to be like his father or the 26-year-old father of four that his father suggests as a role model.
Sure, he admires and even fetishizes artists, but he doesn't want to be one of them, either. And the one person he does seem to look up to, teen acting sensation Charley Edwards, doesn't even seem to like him very much. The narrator says, with something less than enthusiasm, that Charley "often found the boy very useful" (1).
Not to mention that he doesn't appear to be dispensing particularly sage advice. Case in point: He helps Paul plan his bank heist.
Okay, so there is one group of people that Paul does want to emulate: the rich. But, come on, this is incredibly vague. It's not like Paul even knows any rich people, aside from the ones he ushers at Carnegie Hall. And admiring someone's nice clothes isn't much to base an aspiration on.