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Written by Timothy Sexton
A high school student in Pittsburgh who has rejected materialism, dogmatic Christian religious beliefs, and other trappings of middle class conformity by adopting the attitude of an alienated aesthete. He tells fanciful lies about his travels and adventures and has become increasingly obsessed with the artistic world of music, theater and fine art. In fact, Paul is given to entering altered states of consciousness when enthralled by the music he love, becoming irritable and resentful at having been pulled out of such a heightened state of intensity. Upon being kicked out of school, he makes off with money from the theater where he works as an usher and enjoys an indulgent fantasy of opulent aristocratic living far from his middle-class existence. Out of money and aware that he is running out of time being dragged back to an unbearable reality back home by his father, Paul heads to the train platform with no intention of taking a trip.
The authority figure in Paul’s life against whom he takes out his overwhelming sense of rebellion against authority far more expansive than one parent. His dad is a widower and along with being the personification of empty middle class values against Paul rebels also stands for the values which built the American middle class: hard work and a genuine belief in the possibility of attaining the American Dream.
The leading juvenile talent of the Pittsburgh theater company with which Paul becomes entranced. Charley helps to foster Paul’s interest in theater by inviting him to rehearsals. Charley also helps Paul prepare for trip to New York and their overall relationship is lent an implicit air of homosexual attraction.
Paul's Art Teacher
While Paul’s other instructors view him disparagingly and as something of a rude and self-involved little brat, Paul’s drawing master has a decidedly more sensitive appreciation of the boy’s eccentricities. Perhaps this insight is available due to the teacher’s having known Paul’s mother, which may also explain why even though he is more forgiving of Paul’s overstepping boundaries, he is convinced there is something unquestionably off about him.
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