Paul's Case: A Study in Temperament
How we cite our quotes:
Once, when he had been making a synopsis of a paragraph at the blackboard, his English teacher had stepped to his side and attempted to guide his hand. Paul had started back with a shudder and thrust his hands violently behind him. The astonished woman could scarcely have been more hurt and embarrassed had he struck at her. The insult was so involuntary and definitely personal as to be unforgettable. (1.3)
It's totally a power play to try to move someone's hand, but Paul has even more power—the power to hurt her feelings.
Older boys than Paul had broken down and shed tears under that baptism of fire, but his set smile did not once desert him, and his only sign of discomfort was the nervous trembling of the fingers that toyed with the buttons of his overcoat, and an occasional jerking of the other hand that held his hat. (1.4)
This is maybe the most admirable that Paul is ever going to be. He's got a room full of adults trying to break him, and he still manages to keep his cool.
His teachers left the building dissatisfied and unhappy; humiliated to have felt so vindictive toward a mere boy, to have uttered this feeling in cutting terms, and to have set each other on […]. Some of them remembered having seen a miserable street cat set at bay by a ring of tormentors. (1.10)
At least some of the teachers seem to realize how messed up they're being. Still, all the adults in this story need a serious dose of empathy.