Red Carnation In Paul's Case

584 Words3 Pages
In Paul's Case, Cather characterizes a young boy’s over-obsession with an insular fantasy world as a deadly portal of escape the mundanities of middle-class life. Cather equates Paul’s incongruity with society and corresponding weaknesses to the life cycle of the red carnations that he adores. The author marks Paul’s attitude in the face of authority through his use of the bright, red carnations in a dull, grey environment. Cather notes Paul’s repetition of the “scandalous” red carnation in his behavior through dramatic bows, falsified smiles, and unimaginable splendor. Worried, the teachers see Paul’s vivacious adornment of his uniform as a dismissal of their authority and as a flaw to be exterminated. Constantly penalized for his spirited…show more content…
Cather even likens the histrionic nature of the boy to an “addiction to belladonna.” The inescapable manner of Paul’s fancy for the arts proves the fatality of his wildest fantasies. After having a taste of the beauty that he religiously craves, Paul leaves the Carnegie Hall restless and irritable, despising any moment outside of this delicious enchantment that flavors his life. Cather labels Paul’s disastrous attitude as the inability to “give up the only thing that could be called living at all.” Subsequently, Paul’s single-minded artistic zeal degrades his ability to appreciate sufficient middle-class…show more content…
After drinking wine, Paul experiences a dreadful hangover, resulting in his desperation to escape and intolerance of the walls that stand between him and his ideal world. Although Paul falls asleep to the “chill sweetness of his wine,” he wakes up the following morning to a “painful throbbing in his head.” Much like a hazardous addiction, Paul’s overindulgence in luxuries results in his physical and mental misery. Artificially attempting to escape endless swarms of duplicates that he despises, Paul ironically amplifies his inability to tolerate ordinary life. Revealing the pitfalls of Paul’s powerful longing for a paradise, Cather suggests Paul’s flawed being. His unrealistic and single-minded expectations lead him to label the “exotic, tropical world” that he reveres so fervently as one that he will be forever on the outside of. Eying the alluring hotel just outside of the theater in the rain, Paul laments that he is “destined always to shiver in the black night outside, looking up at it.” Concurrently watching his fantasy through one window and the homogenous houses filled with people who villainize him, Paul feels buried and entrapped. Although Paul’s fanatical, private lifestyle provides him an escape from the mundanities of middle class life, his raised expectations and brief kisses with success ultimately result in his

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