Paul's Case: A Study in Temperament
by Willa Cather
For someone who looms so large in Paul's life, his father doesn't actually appear in the story very much. We only get glimpses of him, and mostly he exists in Paul's mind—like when Paul imagines him standing "at the top of the stairs, his hairy legs sticking out from his night-shirt, his feet thrust into carpet slippers" (1).
But we do learn a lot from his actions. He forces Paul to return to school, lectures him about waiting until the last minute to do his homework, and gets Charley Edwards to stay away from Paul. He's strict, hard working, and—you have to admit—he means well. Even Cather admits that "he had a worthy ambition to come up in the world" (1).
Remember that we never seem to get a really objective picture of the guy, either. We mostly know how Paul views him, and we have to work to figure out what he's actually like. Yeah, he's strict and a little stingy. But he truly seems to want the best for Paul, even if what he wants is the total opposite of what Paul wants. He's a guy any corporate boss would love.