Monday, October 22, 2012

A World of Loneliness

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Is there an actual thing as “not fitting in” or being “unusual”? Does this mean that there is no one who can relate to us; how we think or feel? No matter of age, gender, race, sexual preference, background, likes or dislikes, everyone has characteristics about themselves that either makes them capatible to or distinguishes them from others. Everyone blends in somewhere and no one person can fit in everywhere. That one capatible person may not always be in reach. Finding a person who can relate to us is sometimes hard but like finding the perfect mate, we must search about or sit until we are found. In Willa Cather’s Paul’s Case, Paul is an unusual teenage boy who is unsatisfied with his life and wants to live in a fantasy world because he lives in an environment where it is hard to find someone who understands or that can relate to the way he feels.

In Willa Cather’s Paul’s Case, a teenage boy by the name of Paul is described to be unusual because no one understands him. Paul is unhappy with the school he attends. “Paul is shown to be in an unhappy relationship with teachers and classmates and, generally, cannot endure the academy without infusing that world with his own sense of color and need for embellishment” (Pitcher 547). Unlike other teenagers his age, he does not understand how he can learn anything of use, from his teachers. Paul’s attitude toward school causes his teachers to hold a conference with his father. “The teachers are not unkind by nature, but they lack the imagination to understand sympathetically Paul’s temperament and consequently allow


themselves to be goaded into actions that contradicts their own values” (Summers 111). When entering the room, Paul’s nonchalant attitude causes the teachers to come to a harsh conclusion.

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Paul’s father does not take the time to recognize and understand why Paul is misbehaving. He does not take extreme measures in reaction of Paul’s unaccepted behavior at school. Instead he removes Paul from school after another incident where Paul lied to his classmates about his relationship with the performers of Carnegie Hall, where he worked. Paul’s lies got so outrageous, the principal went to Paul’s father about the issue. Consequently, Paul’s father removes him from school, making him find anther job and foreboded Paul to be allowed in Carnegie Hall ever again. Paul’s father did not know what he had actually done to Paul emotionally. Paul’s father did not know that the hall was where Paul went to mesmerize, clearing his mind of all of the realistic occurrences in his life. “A similar failure of imagination leads Paul’s father to force his son to break off his relationship with his only friend, the young actor, and to bar him from the theater and concert hall, the scenes of his only pleasures. Instead of regarding Paul’s interest in art and in the friend (a potential lover), as a possible resource that might be developed to help his son, the father reacts simplistically and increases Paul’s isolation and alienation” (Summers 111). Paul’s father did not understand what the hall meant to Paul. He did not know that visiting the hall actually kept Paul from getting into worse problems such as those he was engaged in after he was forbidden from it. “Despite his addiction to the stimulus of art, Paul is himself singularly uncreative. He is neither an artist, musician, writer, actor, nor reader “He felt no necessity to do any of these things; what he wanted was to see, to be in the atmosphere, float on the wave of it, to be carried out, blue league after blue league, away from everything”” (11). Paul used the concert hall to free his mind of all the bad things that was


happening in his life. This is where he escaped is imperfect world and crossed to his fantasy world.

Paul’s reason for no one understanding him was his homosexuality. Paul never revealed that he was a homosexual. He kept it hidden because he did not feel it was ordinary for anyone to feel the things he felt. “Paul is seeking “freedom from fear” of discovery of his homosexuality” (Pitcher 54). He feels he will be punished from society if this is revealed. Because of these unusual feelings that Paul has, he refuses to associate himself with others. He prefers to be in alienation and isolation from the rest of the world for which he is surrounded by. Paul’s homosexual feelings make him believe that the society and environment he lives in will not understand him.

Paul is completely unsatisfied with his life. Being in an environment in which he is not understood causes Paul to dislike the academy that he attends, to dislike Cordelia Street, the street that he lives on, and the house on Cordelia Street in which he lives. He feels these things are unlike him. He wishes to be around those who are wealthy. He thinks being surrounded by things of value and people who have money is what his society must be filled with for him to be understood. Paul feels he can escape the harsh punishment, which the world holds, if he lived a life similar to those who are wealthy. He dreads going home to a house occupied by his father, whom misunderstands him. Paul refuses to return constantly to a house he now realizes is inescapable. “Paul’s imagination is so constructed and circumscribed that he can picture himself only within that “immense design” over which he has no control and from which he can find no exit. Even in his dreams he finds himself violently thrown back home” (Salda 11). Paul tries to

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use his imagination a number of times to help him escape his world of torment but realizes there is no escaping, not even in his imagination.

Paul’s alienation from others causes him to live in a fantasy world. He feels a more wealthy society can relate to him better so he looses himself in his daydreams of an understanding world. In Paul’s fantasy world, there is no Cordelia Street, a place where the cost of things mattered. Cordelia Street and the house in which he lives is just temporary. “Cordelia Street is not the actual stage of life but a backstage, where he does not live, but only endures”(Page 554). In Paul’s world, the value of money really did not matter. He thinks that having money helps people to cope and deal with society and personal problems. Paul no longer has to play a role in this world in which he does not belong. He no longer has to pretend to be something he really is not. Paul no longer has to live in a world in which he does not fit. “In another sense, he is happy because, having found his place and himself, he no longer has to play a part at all”(556).

In Willa Cather’s Paul’s Case, Paul seems to have a problem of being able to find someone to whom he can actually relate to. Paul has a hard time finding someone because he alienates himself from the world. It is not that no one does not want to hang or be friends with Paul, he just does not allow anyone to get close to him because of his own insecurities.

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