Paul's Case

Diagnosing Paul College

In the 1905 short story “Paul’s Case”, author Willa Cather leaves the reader to wonder what exactly Paul’s “case” is. Throughout the story, there seems to be clues left behind by Cather as to what Paul’s obstacles are. Some of Cather’s indications of what Paul is dealing with, make it appear as though Paul is suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and effects of an unresolved Oedipus Complex. These potential factors of Paul’s ambiguous personality are expressed through Paul’s actions. Examples of some of his alarming behavior would be his views on society and his poor decisions towards the very end of the story.

In Willa Cather’s story, “Paul’s Case”, the opening scene starts off with a meeting discussing if Paul, the main character of the story, should be allowed reentry to school following his suspension a week prior. Following the meeting, it comes up that there was something about Paul that no one could directly understand. It comes out that at a very young age, Paul lost his mother. It’s clear that he wouldn’t remember this experience or remember her at all, but there are plenty of direct effects from losing a parent. An effect of losing a parent could be developing Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This...

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