Materialism in Paul's Case by Willa Cather Essay

Materialism in Paul's Case by Willa Cather Essay

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In "Paul's Case," Willa Cather manages to apply the emotions, feelings, troubles, and thoughts of modern society, allowing the reader to relate to the story. By incorporating the same heavy burdens that bother and aggravate people in their daily lives, Willa explores the pain and treatment unwanted people experience. Obviously, nobody wants to feel rejection or alienation from the world, but instead they desire to encounter acceptance and agreement with the world's standards. In the story, the main character, Paul goes through excruciating transformations and lengths to try and impress the people around him. Attempting to belong in a superficial society, Paul loses a part of his identity without acknowledging it and therefore he strays from his own personality. Blinding himself from reality, Paul succumbs to the materialistic requirements of society, which contributes largely to his peculiar behavior.
The style of Paul?s wardrobe determines the attitude of Paul?s personality. During the meeting with the faculty of his school, Paul displays himself as a motionless, dead character. ?His clothes were a trifle outgrown, and the tan velvet on the collar of his open overcoat was frayed and worn, but for all that there was something of a dandy about him, and he wore an opal pin in his neatly knotted black four-in-hand, and a red carnation in his buttonhole.? Paul feels that the clothes he wears symbolizes his status in life and only the nice, fancy clothes seem to please him. When he reachers the theater at Carnegie Hall, the glow and warmth returns to Paul?s face and attitude. ?...Paul th[inks] it very becoming though he kn[ows] the tight, straight coat accentuate[s] his narrow chest, about which he was exceedingly sensitive...


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...e[s]. Then, because the picture-making mechanism [is] crush[ing], the disturbing visions flash[ing] into black, and Paul drop[s] back into the immense design of things.? When Paul jumps in front of the train, he thinks it will take away his problems and help him escape the horrendous world forever.

In Willa Cather's story "Paul's Case", the character Paul embodies how the desire of materialism can affect the mind and soul of human being. Paul, a very self-oriented and introverted boy designs and calculates his every move to prevent people from discovering the real him. Despising his life at Cordelia Street, Paul throws himself into the plot of obtaining money, wealth, and power. This ruins Paul?s life and distracts him from truly enjoying his youth and independence. The story presents that even riches, wealth, power cannot buy one?s happiness or sanity.

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