by Willa Cather | Grades 11-12
The short story “Paul’s Case” is about a young man who struggles to fit in at home, school and in the world. The story begins with his being suspended from school. Although his father considers him a role model for Paul, Paul is unimpressed by a plodding young man who works for an iron company and is married with four children. While Paul longs to be wealthy, cultivated, and powerful, he lacks the stamina and ambition to attempt to change his condition. He picks up a job ushering at a music hall in Pittsburgh. Later on, Paul makes it clear to one of his teachers that his job ushering is more important than his schoolwork, causing his father to prevent him from continuing to work as an usher. Paul takes a train to New York City after stealing over $1000 from his new job at Denny & Carson's to finance a new life. Paul's father pays back the money Paul stole and goes to NYC to get Paul. Rather than returning home to his old life, Paul commits suicide by jumping in front of a train.