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Symbolism 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 on 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…show more content…
The flowers symbolize Paul’s position in society as an outcast. First, the flowers in the winter is 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 represents the coldness Paul receives from his teachers and neighbors because they express their aversion towards him and the flower he wears. 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. For instance, his society “shut him out of the theatre and concert hall, which took away his bones” (Cather). Paul’s society makes him insecure about himself that he fades out of his community. Finally, the flowers kept inside glass cases infer that Paul is trapped as an outcast. For instance, whole flower gardens are blooming under glass cases (Cather). The glass case constrains the flowers from nature that it indicates that Paul is isolated from others. For example, Paul sat all afternoon staring at the street, while his sisters were talking to the neighbors (Cather). He is shut-out of his community
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