Misunderstood In Paul's Case By Willa Cathur

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Being misunderstood is a fear in which many possess. The desire to be understood and accepted by others is human nature. In “Paul’s Case”, the author, Willa Cathur, portrays Paul, the main character, as a young and misunderstood boy. Paul’s desire to distance himself from his father, classmates and teachers stems from their inability to accept him for his true self. It is apparent that Paul is different, but that should not be an issue. Paul is a troubled boy who finds solace in escaping from the real world. When Paul is in touch with reality, he is unhappy and rebellious. When Paul feels accepted and important, he is truly a bright and respectable young man. Multiple personalities of Paul are explored throughout the short story, which causes…show more content…
Just like Paul, his red carnation is different and those differences are mistaken as disrespectful. Rather then embracing the flower and appreciating it’s beauty, his teachers have a distain for the flower, describing it as “not properly significant of the contrite spirit befitting a boy under the ban of suspension”(1). Similarly, Paul’s father, who upon hearing of Paul’s suspension, spoke with the principal to explain his “perplexity about his son”(1), does not understand Paul. His father, who is the lone parent and role model in his life, should be there to guide Paul through his struggles. Paul requires nurturing and praise for his unique personality, yet his father, like everyone else, tries to force Paul to become someone he is not. His father’s attitude forces Paul to find happiness only at times he is distanced from the real world. He enjoys nothing more then working as an usher at Carnegie Hall, where he is able to escape reality. As Paul cannot obtain happiness in his true world, he rebels against those around him. His rebellion against society is not one of hate, rather a rebellion of anger towards those who do not accept him. His teachers and father do not allow Paul to be comfortable in his own skin, forcing Paul to obtain only small windows of happiness.…show more content…
The Paul in which we see on a day to day basis is sad and disrespectful, while the Paul we see at Carnegie Hall and in New York is full of life and an obedient young man. The differences in his character are evident in the disparity between his personality at his safe haven, Carnegie Hall, and at the place he dreads most, school. At school, Paul is described as “impertinent” and “disorderly”. To the contrary, at Carnegie Hall, Paul is described as a “model usher” (2) and all the people in his section “[think he is] a charming boy”(2). Paul’s contempt for his teachers originates from their inability to relate to him and accept him. He refuses to respect them because he feels they do not respect him. At Carnegie Hall, Paul can escape the world where he is not accepted. To the attendees of the opera, Paul is a mere usher, and nothing more. Due to the respect he receives at Carnegie Hall, he in return is respectful. As Paul finds his true happiness while acting as someone he is not, it is clear as to why Paul runs away. He has been fantasizing about this for years and once he can no longer attend Carnegie Hall, he has to find a new safe haven, somewhere he can escape the harsh reality of his life. When Paul embarks on his overnight journey to New York, he leaves behind the sad, misunderstood version of himself. While in New
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