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Analysis

Literary Devices in Paul's Case: A Study in Temperament

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Setting

We're not saying we would have wanted to live anywhere in 1905, since we're pretty attached to our smartphones—but if we did have to time-travel back a century or so, we'd definitely take New Yor...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator in "Paul's Case" might know everything—like the fact that the teachers are "in despair" about him (1.8), but it sure doesn't tell everything. In fact, this narrator leaves out big ch...

Genre

Any more genres and we'd be in kitchen-sink territory. The thing is, all these genres are mixed up together, so you really can't have one without the other. Let's start with "Family Drama":Relation...

Tone

The tone of Cather's narrator is dry and factual, almost as though this is a set of notes written by a psychiatrist or detective at the conclusion of a case. You can check out "Narrator Point-of-Vi...

Writing Style

Visual and dramatic—sounds a lot like Paul, doesn't it? Let's take a look:VisualThis is an easy one. Cather paints lots of vivid little pictures for us, like Paul's red carnation, or his red robe...

What's Up With the Title?

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Old Clock Tower. He's got a bad case of the flu. "Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria." Suzy's got a case on Timmy. Case study. "Flowers … in glass cases"...

What's Up With the Ending?

"Paul's Case" ends with a splat as Paul jumps in front of an oncoming train. If you're looking for a story to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, keep on looking. Basically, what's happened here i...

Tough-o-Meter

"Paul's Case" is short, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Cather's writing is full of elaborate sentences like, "had he not always been thus, had he not sat here night after night, from as far back...

Plot Analysis

Bueller? Bueller??"Paul's Case" starts with Paul getting the business from his teachers about being rude, insolent, and just basically not the way they expect a good student to be. Art vs. Lif...

Trivia

Willa Cather really seems to have dug "Paul's Case"—so much that, for many years, it's the only story she'd let textbooks or anthologies reprint. (source).Before Willa Cather was a writer, she pl...

Steaminess Rating

"Paul's Case" is so G-rated that the only physical touch we hear about—the English teacher trying to guide his hand—has Paul jumping back in revulsion. The one slightly titillating thing about...

Allusions

Sunday World (1.17)"a sleep and a forgetting," William Wordsworth, "Intimations of Immortality" (1.29) Carnegie Hall (1.11)Augustus Caesar (1.11)The Schenley Hotel (1.16) "Soldier's Chorus" f...
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