Paul's Case By Willa Cather Analysis

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Is art addictive? In Willa Cather’s short story “Paul’s Case,” art serves as a dangerous drug to the main character, Paul. Paul’s addiction to art, which includes music, paintings, and theatre, causes him never-ending problems. Cather portrays Paul to be an average boy who uses the flashy world of art and drama to escape from his everyday life. He feels most alive and at his happiest when art surrounds him, however, he consumes it voraciously and without thought because he does not understand what he sees. Cather uses allegories to imply that art is like a drug to Paul that he uses to cope with the disgust that he feels for his life.
First of all, Paul works as an usher at Carnegie Hall, which is where he gets his daily fix of art. He is “always considerably excited while he [dresses], twanging all over to the tuning of the strings and the preliminary flourishes of the horns… [and seems] quite beside himself” (Cather 365). Paul is exhibiting the same behavior as a drug addict that is about to get his next hit. Merely the sound of the varying instruments gives Paul overwhelming happiness. He cannot seem to contain his excitement as the symphony warms up, and vivaciously prepares himself so that he can fulfill his duties as an usher.
Secondly, Paul does not
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The mediocre existence that Paul lives pushes him to pursue the addictive nature of art even more. He attains instant gratification from music, paintings, and theater but ultimately never finds true satisfaction from the arts. Paul’s happiness that he experiences is just an illusion because he does not truly understand what he is seeing or hearing. Like a true addict, Paul only wants a quick fix and consumes art as easily and fast as he can. He does not take the time to learn about art because of his need for immediate satisfaction. Ultimately, Paul’s addiction leads to a multitude of
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