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A Victim Of Environment

3 Pages 839 Words

A person bored and fed up with his dreary life of school, home, and monotonous jobs, Paul allowed his environments to dictate his feelings and behavior. The settings in “Paul's Case” reveal aspects of Paul's character and events in his life. The author, Willa Cather, uses the mood and climate of the settings around Paul to determine his feelings and desires. Paul’s life can be best described using his major dwellings: life on Cordelia Street (including school), the theater, and New York. It is the transition of these settings that Cather uses to ultimately reach the climax of the story, in which Paul commits suicide. Cordelia street would be his beginning, the theater his doorway, and New York his downfall. In Paul’s mind living the life of the theater and luxury was supreme achievement.
Life began for Paul on Cordelia Street. It represents the bland part of Paul’s life that he is trying to escape, “all of whom were as exactly alike as their homes, and of a piece with the monotony in which they lived” (145). Paul detested the middle class setting in which he lived. He despised his own family and was sickened by the aura of his room. To Paul his street was generic and had no character, he always appeared to believe himself to be above his neighbors. His neighbors and family all appeared to be the same and to Paul lived a boring and uneventful life.
Not just the street itself, but also the school setting reflect Paul’s feelings and behavior. The school building is described as having "bare floors and naked walls," and as being inhabited by "prosy men who never wore frock coats or violets in their button-holes" (149) Paul created an illusion that he was not destined for the dreary settings of his school. This illusion accounts for his peculiar light-heartedness towards school.
Working as an usher at the Carnegie Theater, Paul developed his love of luxury and artificial beauty. Paul worked there, not becaus...

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