Flowers In Paul's Case: A Study In Temperament

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Layers of illusions are burned away and all Paul has left is reality. In Willa Cather’s tragic short story “Paul’s Case: A Study in Temperament,” the flowers capture the reality world Paul departs from. For instance, critic Sherry Crabtree asserts that the red carnation symbolizes Paul’s alienation from the world of Cordelia Street (Crabtree 206). Crabtree observes the patterns of how the flowers reveal Paul’s negative outlook of life. On the other hand, some critics claim that the flowers capture the fantasy world Paul envisions. For example, author of short stories Edward Pitcher claims that the flower in Paul’s lapel portrays his world of illusions with his “own sense of color and need for embellishment” (Pitcher 547). What Pitcher fails to notice is that the flowers …show more content…

The flowers in “Paul’s Case” symbolize Paul’s position, desires, and future.
The flowers symbolize Paul’s position in society as an outcast. First, the flowers are exotic in the winter just like Paul in his community. For example, the flowers in the garden are “blooming against the sides of which the snow-flakes stuck and melted” (Cather). The snow-flakes on the flowers represent the coldness Paul receives from his teachers because they express their aversion towards him. Similarly, the blossoms are mock by the winter cold (Cather). Just like the flowers in the winter, Paul feels lifeless when his society treats him with indifference by “shutting him out of the theatre and concert hall, which felt like taking away his bones” (Cather). Paul’s society makes him insecure and alone as he fades out of his world. Finally, the flowers kept inside glass cases mean that Paul is trapped inside. For instance, whole flower gardens are blooming under glass cases (Cather). The glass case constrains the flower from nature in an artificial environment, which foretells that Paul is restricted to stay in his world away from the others. For example, Paul sat all

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