Books and Movies Reviews

not a usual case

Some critics have ever commented that Willa Cather was one of the few "uneasy survivors of the nineteenth century." Holding traditional values tightly, she rejected modernity and tried to escape into the shelter of the past as she made her solemn statement that "the world" broke into two. Most of her works are a fictional projection of her crisis in life. So is "Paul's Case".
Having deep abhorrence for the drab school life, dull life in his residence, Paul refuges himself to the local theatre and Carnegie Hall as an usher, where "he felt a sudden zest of life and resurrects from spiritual deadness, where he passionately works, steeped into music , forgetting the mundane disturbance. From the very beginning of the story, it is introduced that Paul's case is not a usual one because his teachers make their charges against Paul with " such a rancor and aggrievedness…" In fact, Paul himself is absolutely not a usual boy because you will find that he is in possession of the strong air of artist, extraordinary, imaginative, always dreaming of perfect, "splendid, brilliant and poetic things" and picturesque life as well. Therefore, he is not well accepted by the reality, deep in the conflicts of individual and society, of his "self" in reality and in illusion. After he is aware that what he is facing is insoluble and implacable, he takes ending his life as solution to his dilemma. Though tragic, I still think he completes his seeking for real "self" in a certain sense.
It is sufficiently evidenced that Paul is depicted as an artist-like young man in the story. For instance, "and Paul thought it very becoming-though he knew that the tight, straight coat accentuated his narrow chest, about which he was exceedingly sensitive." At this point, I believe Paul shares with artist one thing that is to fix attention to


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