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Paul's Case

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,313 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
THIS 42 PAGE ARTICLE WAS EXTRACTED FROM THE BOOK: Youth and the Bright Medusa, by Willa Cather. To purchase the entire book, please order ISBN 1417917318.
Paperback, 42 pages
Published September 10th 2010 by Kessinger Publishing (first published 1920)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,859)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A teenage boy, having problems at school, more in love with the theatre than studying, enamored with high society and wealth. But his family is not rich. With all his being he hates the ugliness and commonness of home and the street he lives in.

So he does something which enables him to live the life he wanted, the life he had always dreamed of, briefly and dangerously. He knows he could not sustain such a lifestyle for long, yet he is living his dream, ah to live for the moment! And ah, to kill
Warning Signs Missed
In 1905, when Willa Cather wrote “Paul’s Case”, parents, teachers, and even psychologists may not have readily recognized Paul as a child dealing with depression and sexual identity issues. His fastidious manner, obsession with art, but not as a participant, and his much greater obsession with money and its trapping, I believe shows signs of Paul’s depression and sexual identity issues.
Although Paul comes from a lower middle class family, he does what he can to dress up the
Jeff Yoak
I had this book rated as five stars and remembered it as one of the few stories inflicted upon me in high school that I actually liked at the time rather than finding an affection for them later when they were no longer associated with the terror of English class. Sometimes there were extreme cases of that such as The Clan of the Cave Bear which I hated at the time, but that would later become favorites. Paul's Case worked out the opposite way.

The story is of a boy who finds his middle class lif
Keith Rasche
Nov 24, 2013 Keith Rasche rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Paul's Case is a short story and probably not as famous as some of Willa Cather's other writings, but it stuck out to me because I could understand the character and his rebellious nature against the society that was trying to force him do things that would make him become something that he despised. His teachers, as well as his father, wanted him to act “normal” and their versions of normal would have turned him into a man that grew up, married, had kids, and worked for the rest of his life, ne ...more
Apr 29, 2016 Rach rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually read this in March 2016 but it's a short story within my LIT book that I counted as read already :)
Jun 07, 2015 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and sad. Paul was right, luxuriating in a grand New York hotel feels good. He stayed in the Waldorf. I recently had a $12 cappuccino at the Plaza. For 20 minutes, I was someone else. I did not follow that up with a trip to train tracks in New Jersey. Kudos to the high school English teacher who assigned that story to me way back when; I wish I remember who she was so I could give credit.

Here's a sign of the times or a sign of how clueless I was in high school: reading now about a teen
Jun 16, 2012 Lizzie rated it really liked it
The more I thought about this after I read it, the better I liked it. That isn't a typical pattern for me, but I love when it happens.

It's written in a very distant third-person voice. Nothing you learn about Paul comes from him. His actions are very, very guarded. When the plot takes the turn 2/3 of the way in, and Paul has actually gone and done something, and something entirely unexpected, it's surprisingly riveting. It's such a huge mistake, an he had my heart for it.

This story gets read a l
Apr 07, 2011 Kirby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of many American short story collections that I read in college, when I was too young and drunk to appreciate literary naturalism in any sort of meaningful way. I'm older and less drunk now, so they resonate more-- particularly the stories about lonely Scandinavians on the American frontier. I know "Paul's Case" is Willa Cather's most famous story from this volume, but my favorite was "Eric Hermannson's Soul", a sad little tale about a brawny farmer who falls in love with a city girl ...more
We had to read this this year in our 9th grade English class. As a person who loves to read, but hates the books and stories our high school forces us to read, I actually vaguely enjoyed Paul's case.

The actual reading part was boring. Can something be boring and enjoyable at the same time? Well it can now! Although the actually reading process wasn't my favorite, I enjoyed breaking down the story itself. It actually interested me.

The story was horrible. Now the story is boring, enjoyable, and h
Jun 14, 2016 TJ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this story on a personal level. Very, very deep and can be applied to issues still ongoing today, sadly. 5/5 stars.
May 12, 2012 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, short-story
An inside look of a teenager's mind who is completely dissatisfied with his life. I think this is a perfect story showing how the mind of a depressed person works. Anyone who has ever asked the questions "Why did he do it? He had so much ahead of him?" should read this story.
May 12, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A young man lost. Paul is consumed by art, disillusioned by his home life and alienated by life/society. Cather's story of Paul's Case is a sad tale of a young man misunderstood as well as Paul himself not quite being able to assemble the pieces of who he is to create his authentic self. You are absorbed in Paul's thoughts as he flails aimlessly in this great big world. Cather is a wordsmith and Paul's Case demonstrates her unrelenting talent.
Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya


One of America's finest and most well-known short stories, "Paul's Case" presents you with the skillful psychological portrait of youth who wants it all and now. Many teenagers do, but in Paul's case... "there is something wrong about the fellow" as his teachers agree. In early 1900es teachers and parents did not have much information on the signs of depression, which Paul suffered from greatly.

I highly recommend reading this short story for the keen observations on characte
Carlee Loupe
Jul 05, 2016 Carlee Loupe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young man more interested in daydreams and theater than his high school finds himself living the life he always wanted to have. He escapes the life he dreads to live for a week the life he always wanted. He runs from his depression only to find it return when his money runs out. He is left with the choice of whether or not to return to his father's home and the life he hates, or change his fate.
Edmond DeRousse
Jul 13, 2015 Edmond DeRousse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-story
Society puts so much pressure on the youth. This book reminds us of that reality. Sometimes, it's just too much for them to bear. It's really no surprise that a number of today's youth are depressed. They feel like they're carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. This is an eye opener. This reminds me of The Catcher in the Rye, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and It's Kind of a Funny Story.
Britney Walker
I see most reviews on here are glorifying Paul's actions as someone following their dreams defying normalcy, but I saw Paul as more self indulgent, narcissistic, rash ,possibly depressed, but I still felt sorry for him lol. I saw Paul as someone who doesn't see his father's concern, or seeing that his teachers wanted to help him. Through his perspective everything is negative.If you notice the narrator often has to fills us in with descriptions of the characters around Paul, especially the ones ...more
Feb 20, 2014 Victoria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Typical run of the mill high school short story. - Spoilers -
Protagonist who's misunderstood or different or struggling with something: check
Boring rising action about protagonist's life: check
Plot twist that's unusual, but not because they're ALL unusual: check
Unnecessary death: check

Yep, that's the whole of it. I continue to stand by my slogan about English classes: Nothing makes me hate reading more. Now I know why kids don't read. Hopefully college will be better.
Christina Kotz
Apr 13, 2014 Christina Kotz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aesthetics
Stumbled upon this around age 19 in a collection of American short stories. Striking. Paul is a dreamer, *sigh*, like myself and so many of us. Isn't reality just so dreary sometimes? This is a good little tragedy, beautifully written. Paul just really likes beautiful things, with a pathological allergy to anything not.
Jan 27, 2014 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the short stories I read for grade 12 English and I really liked it, probably because there was quite a few similarities between Paul and myself at the time. All the symbolism made sense and I got an A on paper based on the story. It's quite a sad one I think, but it's so well written that even when it's assigned for school, it's still good
Apr 25, 2014 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Willa Cather's most famous short story. It is, of course, well written but SAD! Paul didn't fit into the mold of acceptability, and his creativity was thwarted so in lieu of returning the his "normal" home, he killed himself.
Sep 24, 2013 Rusty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this collection Willa Cather explores themes that she observed in her life on the prairies of mid-America. The short stories are arranged chronologically. In two stories, she details the impact of religion on those who looked for solace in their faith, sometimes with unfortunate results. Many readers view "Paul's Case," as one of her best. Yes, I liked it as well as her poignant tale about an elderly woman who hears a Wagner performance in Boston where she once had a promising musical career. ...more
Maryam Samiei
It perfectly depicts solitary life of artists.
The end of the story was just amazing. The snow, The great symbol of flowers which symbolized Paul himself and etc...
Kevin Wu
Jul 09, 2014 Kevin Wu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read it the first time. Couldn't quite grasp Paul. Did a short story exam on it. Fell more in love with Paul's Case.
Apr 19, 2015 Xander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story stabs me in the heart and twists the knife. I love it.
Jul 25, 2013 Justin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: required
This story is about someone named Paul (obviously, right? I mean the main character wouldn't be Bob) who had a bad case. He is so impudent that he gets suspended from school, gets fired from his job, steals $1000, and goes to New York. There he acts rich, and when he finds out his father's going to bring him home, that and other problems (loss of his mother, being gay) cause him to commit suicide by jumping in front of a moving train.

What the flying freak? I didn't really get this story either.
Barb Flory
Several wonderful stories of Nebraska settlers.
Sep 15, 2015 Boro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the last few sentences....
Ida Aasebøstøl
Cool and clearheaded.
Maria Stanica
Jan 30, 2015 Maria Stanica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feb 13, 2011 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
(Read in English III class)

I didn't mind it. It was alright. The ending was a little expected. I haven't read many classics, so they're a little harder for me to understand and read. I hope I can pick up on it faster though. I do think the themes about them continue to be true, and it gives a great insight on human behavior.

We're definitely going to be reading a lot more books including classics for English class until the end of the year, so here's to more reading to come...
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Wilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Virgina (Gore) in December 7, 1873. Her novels on frontier life brought her to national recognition. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours (1922), set during World War I. She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing ...more
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“He was entirely rid of his nervous misgivings, of his forced aggressiveness, of the imperative desire to show himself different from his surroundings. He felt now that his surroundings explained him.” 6 likes
“He stood watching the approaching locamotive, his teeth chattering, his lips drawn away from them in a frightened smile; once or twice he glanced nervously sidewise, as though he were being watched. When the right moment came, he jumped. As he fell, the folly of his haste occurred to him with merciless clearness, the vastness of what he had left undone. There flashed through his brain, clearer than ever before, the blue of Adriatic water, the yellow of Algerian sands.” 2 likes
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