Symbolism Of Paul's Case By Willa Cather

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“Paul's Case” by Willa Cather is a complex story, with a variety of symbolism, as well as a few underlying messages. Cather creates a selfish, yet artistically appreciative main character that dislikes his own social class and confuses the readers. Paul is a young teenage boy, who works as an usher and loves the opera and art. He has a deep longing to belong to the upper class, and he steals money from his father to achieve this dream. Unfortunately, when he realizes that he cannot sustain this way he takes his own life. Paul has a fascination with flowers, especially the carnation, although he loves to surround himself with all types of flowers. The red carnation within in “Paul's Case” has a unique meaning and a greater purpose which Cather …show more content…

This flower is vital to the story because it is a direct mirror to Paul and what he loves and yearns to have. Paul has a deep appreciation for the high classicism and wants to join the upper class, this flower is representative of his appreciation, as well as his “aching” to belong in the upper class. Paul longs for materialistic objects that are “fresh” and colorful, rather than “flavorless” (Cather 239). Paul views flowers in a “quiet enjoyment” as he does with all other objects of the upper class, like the symphony (Cather …show more content…

Earlier in the story when Paul visits Central Park he sees gardens of flowers blooming, and thinks that they make “a wonderful stage winterpiece” (Cather 245). Those flowers are gorgeous to Paul and they are blooming even in the winter. Although, later Cather writes that Paul starts to believe that those flowers will eventually die as well, in “spite of their brave mockery” during the winter (Cather 249). Even though Paul starts to think this way, it seems that to him the flowers he sees in Central Park “belong” in New York, which is why they could bloom during the winter. Therefore, Cather might be suggesting that why Paul buries his carnation in the snow is because Paul and the red carnation both long to belong in New York and the upper class, like the flowers in Central Park. Planting his carnation in the snow is to Paul, a last hope that he, and his carnation, can belong in New York City among the upper class and with all the things that Paul loves and appreciates. Even though, flowers can not grow in snow, Paul still clings to this

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