Use of Symbols in Paul's Case

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Symbols are one of those most important things to a story. They share the meaning of themselves, as well as the meaning for something else. Symbols usually make the important ideas stick out as well as make the reader have different ideas of what is actually being said. One of the many symbols in “Paul’s Case” is flower’s. From violets to carnations, the flowers Paul talks about are ones of many meanings. The flowers represent a continual motif, expressing Paul’s character.

The narrator expresses the teacher’s views towards Paul’s flowers, “…his whole attitude was symbolized by his shrug and his flippantly red carnation…” (Cather). Paul wears the flowers to symbolize his beauty for things. Living in a grey world, Paul needs something to fulfill the happiness in his life. Color brings happiness to him. Critic Wilson states regarding to Paul’s carnation, “The red carnation Paul wears to meet his teachers is to them a sign of his outlandish and insolent attitude.” The red carnation also shows that Paul co mes off as thinking better of himself. The flower makes his teachers think that he is being disrespectful to them with his constant grin and red flower in his button hole. With little hope the narrator says, “The carnations in his coat were drooping with the cold, he noticed; all their red glory over” (Cather). Similarly, the flower in winter represents Paul being out of place in society. The color in the carnation faded when outside, in the cold of winter. Like the carnation, Paul’s liveliness disintegrated within New York as the word got out about his being a thief. The importance of the flowers is that it shows Paul’s love for colors and the beauty of things. It shows that Paul sees everything much different from nor...

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... the high class and bright life of New Yorkers.

Works Cited

Cather, Willa. "Paul's Case." Youth and the Bright Medusa. Willa Cather. Vintage, 1975. p181. Literature Resources from Gale. Gale. Web. 27 Jan. 2010.

Hicks, Jennifer. "Paul’s Case." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 192-209. Short Stories for Students. Gale. Web. 21 Jan. 2010.

"Life Quotes and Sayings, Thoughts on the Philosophy of Life." The Quote Garden - Quotes, Sayings, Quotations, Verses. Web. 22 Jan. 2010.

"Paul’s Case." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 192-209. Short Stories for Students. Gale. Web. 21 Jan. 2010.

Wasserman, Loretta. "Paul’s Case." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Kathleen Wilson. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 192-209. Short Stories for Students. Gale. Web. 21 Jan. 2010.
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