Paul's Case

Cather's Connection to "Paul's Case" College

To understand art, one must first understand the artist who created it and their motivation in doing so. In Willa Cather’s short story “Paul’s Case: A Study in Temperance” the protagonist, Paul, is a unique and complex character, which gives insight into the complexity of his creator. Understanding Cather’s personality and her purpose in the creation of Paul is paramount in the analysis of Paul as a character.

The story of “Paul’s Case” was not wistfully imagined with the inclination to tell a pleasant story of light-hearted entertainment; the immaculate conception of the character Paul and his corresponding case is one of forced emotional expression under the pressures of a society that renounces those who with homosexual tendencies and the isolation that accompanies the concealing of such a secret. As scholar Marilee Lindemann states, “Cather’s fiction is clearly and deeply marked by medical and juridical discourse that pathologies nonprocreative sexualities; often, instead of being subverted or critiqued, those discourses are brutally enforced, even by those who are most oppressed by them”. It wasn’t that Cather was elated to share the story of a young dainty boy who “was tall for his age and very thin, with high, cramped...

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