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Paul's Case - Research Paper Example

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In her short story “Paul’s Case” (1905), Willa Cather presents an image of a young man who feels trapped within a gray life that doesn’t measure up to the type of life he feels he should be living. Almost from the beginning of the story, the reader is made aware of the…
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Download file to see previous pages... These feelings, combined with all of the pressures surrounding him, alienate Paul from any chance of normalcy. However, it has only been within the past three decades that critics have begun talking about the homosexual undertones of the story – that perhaps Paul’s difference is the result of his homosexual tendencies and his despair is due to his awareness that these tendencies place him forever outside of the community he so desperately wants to be a part of. From this perspective, the ugliness of the world around him becomes a metaphor for the ugliness of a world that refuses to accept a person simply because they feel greater attraction to persons of their own gender rather than the opposite. To read the story as an example of the male homosexual literary tradition, many of the ‘coded passages’ referred to by Larry Rubin become clear.
It is primarily through Paul’s eyes that the reader is first made aware that perhaps he doesnt see things in the same way as those around him do. These eyes are described as having a "certain hysterical brilliancy, and he continually used them in a conscious, theatrical sort of way, peculiarly offensive in a boy. The pupils were abnormally large, as though he were addicted to belladonna, but there was a glassy glitter about them which that drug does not produce" (79). Larry Rubin points to these eyes as the first of several examples in the story that contain coded hints that Paul has homosexual tendencies. Other clues that he mentions in his article include the careful way that Paul dresses, his odd relationship with boys who are slightly older and his night on the town with the Yale freshman followed by their ‘cool’ parting which Rubin points out leaves the reader “with an unshakeable sense of innuendo” (1975: 130). Roger Austen concurs with these elements of the story as being intentional indications of Paul’s sexual preference. In scenes such as the disapproval Paul receives because of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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