Short Stories All the Time

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... a few of my thoughts about 900, mostly contemporary, short stories.
Showing posts with label Cather. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cather. Show all posts

01 November, 2010

Willa Cather, "Paul's Case: A Study in Temperament"

I've read this story several times over the years and I never tire of it. Paul is a young man, high school age, from poor working class whose mother has died. He craves to bask in the atmosphere of theater and music. The story begins with his teachers and the principal trying to impress upon Paul that his attitude needs adjustment. He is an infuriating young man with "something of the dandy about him "...nor did he exhibit the contrite spirit befitting a boy under the ban of suspension." Paul does not want to learn how to act or play music or sing. "He felt no necessity to do any of these things; what he wanted was to see, to be in the atmosphere, float on the wave of it, to be carried out...away from everything." His air of defiance angers his teachers even as they are unable to specifically tally his offences. "...yet each of his instructors felt that it scarcely possible to put into words the real cause of the trouble, which lay in a sort of hysterically defiant manner of the boy's..." When Paul is no longer allowed to hang around the theater or the actors, we see the lengths to which he'll go to solve his situation.

"Paul's Case" first appeared in McClure's Magazine in May, 1905.

Willa Cather Foundation
Willa Cather Archive
"Paul's Case" text from archive