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Paul's Case Essay

1201 words - 5 pages

"Paul's Case," by Willa Cather, is the story of a young boy whose dreams are broader than the horizons of his dingy Pittsburgh home. A teenager living in a fairly poor neighborhood, Paul is frequently in trouble at school because of his restless spirit and his feelings of aversion towards the normal, boring people he must face each day. Paul's one source of true joy is his position as an usher at Carnegie Hall, where he can enjoy not only the symphonies, but also the spectacle of "fine people and gay colors" that fills the audience. The Schenley, a grand hotel across the street from Carnegie Hall, symbolizes for Paul all luxuries and freedom from cares; he believes that, if only he could ...view middle of the document...

" That air seems all the warmer and more pleasant in comparison to the wintry scene outside the hotel's windows. When the narrator describes the silence of the wagons passing on the street, the reader feels surrounded by a mantle of muffling snow. But it is the depiction of Paul's dinner at the hotel that is most effective; the reader and Paul alike are overwhelmed by "the lights, the chatter, the perfumes, the bewildering medley of color." It is easy to imagine Paul's delight in the glittering jewels and the flavors of the rich foods. These clear images recreate Paul's world in the reader's mind, thereby helping the reader to identify with Paul.Details of the setting of this story enhance the reader's perception of events, thereby heightening the story's effect. At the beginning of the tale, Paul lives in a dreary neighborhood in Pittsburgh, but his location later changes to flashy Fifth Avenue in New York. The dissimilarity in atmosphere between these two places heightens the contrast between the dirt of Cordelia Street in Pittsburgh and the glamour of the great hotel in New York. The events of the story are easily recognizable as being set in a real historical time period, marked as the late part of the nineteenth century or the early part of the twentieth by the use of streetcars and carriages. The progression of events is largely chronological, moving forward through time from Paul's life on Cordelia Street through his brief stay in New York and on to his early death. However, the author also makes use of a flashback. The narrator tells of Paul's first experiences in New York, then goes back to explain how he came to be there. The clearest indication of the setting is the mood, which parallels Paul's changing feelings throughout the story. His drab Pittsburgh neighborhood fills him with frustration, while the glitter of New York keeps him excited and content. But when Paul's money is gone and he leaves New York, he is as cold and bleak as the snowy landscape that surrounds him. These aspects of the setting help the reader to understand Paul's experiences.With its carefully crafted plot, this story is so written as to leave a lasting impression on the reader. Paul's internal...

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