In Willa Cather?s short story Paul?s Case we learn of a young man who is fighting what he fears most: to be as common and plain as his world around him. How others perceive Paul only encourages him to fulfill his dream of escaping his monotonous lifestyle. Paul feels he is drowning in his everyday environment and his only breath of air is his savior: the theater.
Paul has very little interest in his class studies. This leaves him open to distraction and eventually criticism. Although Paul?s appearance is that of a perfect gentleman, his teachers find his behavior inappropriate and unacceptable. The narrator draws particular attention to Paul?s eyes describing them as ?remarkable for a certain hysterical brilliancy?(Cather 245); this is followed by the response of his teachers who find it ?peculiarly offensive in a boy?(Cather 245). Paul?s meeting with the schools principal continues as each of his teachers get an opportunity to voice their disgust with Paul. The whole time Paul stands there never losing his smile. This is dubbed ?irritating to the last degree? (Cather 246). For Paul this is his sign of strength. He refuses to allow
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