Paul’s misunderstood. In the beginning of the story,
Paul’s Character in Paul’s Case Pauls’s Case is the story of a young man who struggles with his identity. Paul feels that he knows where he belongs, but his family and teachers refuse to support his choices. In the middle of Paul’s Case, there is a switch in narration. At this point, the reader can associate with Paul and his problems.
Paul struggles with both internal and external conflicts, causing him to be quite a puzzling character. From tha perspective of his family and teachers, Paul seems abnormal. From his perspective, however, he seems misunderstood. In the beginning of the story, Paul seems to be a typical teenage boy: in trouble for causing problems in the classroom.
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As the story progresses, the reader can infer that Paul is rather withdrawn. He would rather live in his fantasy world than face reality. Paul dreaded returning home after the Carnegie Hall performances. He loathed his “ugly sleeping chamber with the yellow walls,” but most of all, he feared his father. This is the first sign that he has a troubled homelife.
Next, the reader learns that Paul has no mother, and that his father holds a neighbor boy up to Paul as “a model” . The lack of affection that Paul received at home caused him to look elsewhere for the attention that he craved. The theater and Carnegie Hall was where Paul “really lived”. To him, the rest of his life was but “a sleep and a forgetting”.
The moment Paul stepped into either one of those places, he felt he was in his element. He “breathed like a prisoner set free”. Paul’s life was so monotonous and dull in comparison to his theater life, which he felt was his “secret temple”. This alone provides insight into his character. He truly believed that he belonged to the arts. This makes Paul’s case so sad because no one believed in him. This is what caused him to flee to New York to be in a place where he would be accepted for his true selt.
Paul’s train trip is where the change in narration occurs. Prior to this point, the author used an omniscient point of view. From this point on, the reader reads from Paul’s point of view. The change in narration helps the reader understand Paul’s perspective. He is not, as it seemed in the beginning, an abnormal person. He is a person with dreams and ambitions just like everyone else. The fact that he went to such extreme measures to fulfill his dreams of visiting New York shows his determination.
He did not ever want to return to Cordelia Street. For him, home was “worse than jail”, and the thought of it was “sickeningly vivid”. This shows just how unhappy he was at home, which is very sad.
Paul’s death was foreshadowed when he “sat staring at the revolver”. However, when he decided that “that was not the way”, a false sense of hope was installed in the reader. Hope that he would return home and make things right. This hope came to an abrupt end, as did Paul’s life, when he threw himself in front of a speeding locomotive. Paul’s Case is easy to relate to, partly because there is a little of Paul in everyone. At one time or another, all people find the need for acceptance. In Paul’s case, he took that need too far, and ended up dying.
The switch in narration really brings Paul’s plight into focus. It is when he’s in New York that the reader can see how desperately he wants to be a part of something meaningful for once in his life.