Symbols In Paul's Case By Willa Cather

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“Paul’s Case,” a short story written by Willa Cather, is widely known and taught throughout English classes ranging from high school to college level. This is perhaps Cather’s most famous and reprinted short story, and for good reason. The main character, Paul, is constantly being developed through the story leaving the reader trying to keep up. There are also many other aspects of “Paul’s Case” that call for attention. Two of the most significant aspects that the author uses are foreshadowing and symbolism. Throughout the text, Cather does a magnificent job of using the elements of foreshadowing and symbolism to allude to Paul deciding to commit suicide.
One major instance of foreshadowing can be seen after the student-teacher conference that
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One such indication would be the author’s continual use of the color red. The various things in “Paul’s Case” that Cather describes to be red include Paul’s red carnation at the beginning of the story, the red-glass pitcher used on Sundays for lemonade, and the red robe and flowers that Paul has in New York. The reoccurrence of the color red pushes readers to believe that the author has some kind of deeper meaning behind it. Many people often associate this color with passion, blood, war, or danger, and in “Paul’s Case,” the use of this color likely symbolizes blood and danger. One instance that supports this inference is when the lemonade pitcher is brought outside, and Paul’s neighbors are commenting “about the suspicious color” of it (Cather 75). The neighbors’ use of the word “suspicious” begs for readers’ attention. This particular adjective causes readers to ask questions like “What purpose could Cather have to call the color of a lemonade pitcher suspicious?” or “How could such a thing mean anything more than just a color?” The word “suspicious” usually has a negative connotation, and it is frequently taken to mean something awful might happen. Accordingly, the reader could assume that the conclusion of “Paul’s Case” may be unfavorable for the main character. These types of things cause readers to more closely examine the different occasions that Cather involves the color red. The symbolism that is evident in this story is one of the many things that Cather uses to enchant
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