Analysis Of Several Themes of Paul’s Case
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First, I will talk about the major theme, which is Paul’s obsession with money. This theme also ties into all the other themes that I will bring up. Each theme plays an important role in the others. Smaller subthemes are Paul’s hopes and dreams in that he wishes to be a wealthy person. Another subtheme is lying, this happens when Paul is lying to himself and the people around him about his life. The last theme is his obsession with art and culture. The first theme that the reader is introduced to is Paul’s lying and deceitfulness. Within in the first page of the story, Paul has already lied and shows no remorse for it. “Paul was quite accustomed to lying: found it, indeed indispensable for overcoming friction.” (Cather 243) This quote shows that Paul is used to lying and doing it whenever there might be some problem that arises in his life. This theme is present throughout, but I do not believe that it is the major theme of the story. It does seem to be one that ties in with the major theme the most.
I think that the major theme of “Paul’s Case” is Paul’s obsession with money. This theme does not show up till after a few pages in but is majorly present throughout the rest of the story. The first taste of the theme is when it is made clear that Paul is blinded/obsessed by wealth. ‘…; but she wore a satin gown and a tiara, and she had that indefinable air of achievement, that world-shine upon her, which always blinded Paul to any possible defects.’ I think that this quote shows Paul’s view of people with money and money itself. Even though there is no way to tell if this person is rich or not, she gives off the impression that she is and it is enough to blind Paul.
All throughout the story, Paul wants to become this wealthy person. There is even a point when he is listing to his father and a young man talk about young men who started at the bottom and worked their way up. Paul ignores the part when the men were poor and working hard but instead just focuses on their wealth and extravagant lives. This shows that Paul is so obsessed with money that he chooses to ignore the hard work people have had to do to gain their wealth. Paul’s obsession with money has corrupt him some much that later in the story it is no surprise when he steals $1,000 from his company. Later in the story, Paul starts to analyze his own life and is disappointed with it and thinks there is only one way out of it, wealth. It starts to become clear he will never be the wealthy person he strives to be. Not because he cannot get the money, he has no plan on how to keep the money. His lack of having a plan shows another small theme in the story-dreams, hopes, and plans.
Paul like every young person has dreams and hopes but seems to have no plan for how to accomplish them. This causes him to have a fantasy life- a life he believes to be real. At the same time, he knows that it is not real, but at some points, it is hard to tell if he does really know. I believe that because he does not have a plan to accomplish is dreams this causes him to blur the lines between reality and fantasy. His daydreams of a fantasy life show the theme of having dreams, hopes, but no plans to make the fantasy life real. His fantasy life brings back another theme, lying because he is lying to himself and others around him. His fantasy life and his work on trying to get others to believe it could show that his fantasy life is there to hide something else. Maybe through having the themes of lying, dreams, and hopes proves that there is one major thing he is trying to hide.
I think that through the themes just mention that there is something more than Paul is hiding, the only problem is that it is never directly stated to anyone in the story or the reader. This makes there be no proof, other than a person’s take on the story, that Paul is hiding something. The only plan that the reader sees Paul go through with would be his suicide. I think this shows that Paul may have had other plans to accomplish his dreams that the reader did not know about. Paul’s plan to commit suicide ties most of the themes together. Paul has a chance to go home, his father has paid off his debt and he avoids jail time. But still to Paul going home brings a life he cannot bear to live in. Sadly, he associates his home with everything that is wrong with his life-being poor, having to lie, not accomplishing his hopes and dreams. Paul could also see this to keep hiding his bigger secret forever.
The final theme that has meaning in this story would be going back to the theme of Paul’s obsession with money. When looking at this theme it brings up a smaller one. Paul’s obsession with art and culture. It may seem that they are not connected but when taking a closer look, they are. In Paul’s hope to become wealthy he also notices the art and culture that would come with that. This theme becomes present early in the story. It is first shown by Paul having a job at Carnegie Hall. Not only does Paul have a job at Carnegie Hall he enjoys it. He gets ready excitedly nothing was too much for him when working. Then I think the theme of Paul obsession of art and culture it is strengthened with this quote- ‘When he reached the concert hall, the doors were not yet open… he decided to go up into the picture gallery.’ This shows the Paul enjoys art, he could have done something else but instead, he decided to go look at art. Later in the story, it is said that he hangs around an actor not because he wants to be an actor. But instead, he is more fascinated with the actor’s life.
Paul’s obsession with art, cultural and money seem to be the driving force behind this story. He thinks all his problems can be solved with money. He strives for the finer things for life and makes up stories about himself enjoying them, but he knows the stories are not true. But wishes some much they were true that he starts believing them to be.The story, through multiple themes, shows how the misconception of money can pervert a young person’s life. So much that the person is only thinking of a few things, all revolving around their obsession, and is only trying to get one place. Causing them to be blinded by their obsession and at the end make a bad decision that changes them forever. I think this story also carries a message- Do not let foolish dreams pervert reality some much that reality is not a place where one does not want to live in.
In conclusion, all the themes of this story tie nicely into each other. First, I talked about the major theme, which is Paul’s obsession with money. Next, I showed how this theme ties into all the other themes. Each theme plays an important role in the others. Smaller subthemes being Paul’s hopes and dreams in that he wishes to be a wealthy person. Another subtheme lying, this happens when Paul is lying to himself and the people around him about his life. The last theme is his obsession with art and culture and the need for money to calm those obsessions.