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The Setting Of Paul's Case Essay

1133 words - 5 pages

The setting of the short story “Paul’s Case” is clear and appropriate for the story. This is because Paul's feelings in the story happen to have a direct connection to the setting of the story. The East Coast of the United States is where the story takes place. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Newark, New Jersey, and then on to New York, New York, the exact setting differs throughout the story. “…the dull dawn was beginning to show grey when the engine whistled a mile out of Newark” (Cather). At this point in the story, the main character, Paul, is on board a train which has departed from his hometown of Pittsburgh en route to the Jersey City Station. From there, he plans to make his way to the glamorous New York City, a city that he has always dreamed about visiting. As Paul reads the Pittsburgh paper on the morning of his eighth day in New York, he figures out that his dad is coming for him. “The rumour had reached Pittsburgh that the boy had been seen in a New York hotel, and his father had gone East to find him and bring him home” (Cather). Paul’s father is pursuing him because Paul had left home over a week ago and his father, only now, knows where Paul has run off to. The setting has a direct correlation to the state of Paul’s mind. For example, in a gloomy Pittsburgh, Paul tries anything and everything to get out of the life he is living, and escapes to the glamour and high-class life of New York. “…the New York scenes are heavily ironic…as [Paul] luxuriates in the Waldorf” (Wasserman). He does this in an attempt to find a better life for himself and to make himself, ultimately, happy.
“Paul’s Case” is set in winter, which is very fitting for the story. The story takes place from late November to the middle of January. “On this last Sunday of November, Paul sat all the afternoon on the lowest step of his ‘stoop,’ staring into the street...” (Cather). During this time, Paul contemplates a plan to ask his father for a cab fare. He will tell his father that the money is to make it over to his friend’s house, when he is really planning on making his way to New York City. This escape to New York City is a way out of his life that he is struggling to get through. “The east-bound train was ploughing through a January snowstorm...” (Cather). Now, aboard a train to New Jersey, Paul is longing for the beauty of New York. After the train stops in Newark, Paul hopes to spend a night or two in town and then get on board another train that will take him to New York. The time part of the setting impacts the story greatly, since the story is based in the winter. Winter represents the end of things in literature and it is in this winter, that Paul goes on to commit suicide.
The atmosphere of the story is a cold, stormy, and dead state. Paul is “lost” in himself during the storms of winter. He is like the train that has to plow its way through the January snowstorm.“…the nerve-stuff of all sensations was whirling about him...

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