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Paul's Case Instant Short Story Text & Lesson Plans

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Item #:615ISS
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Paul's Case Instant Short Story Text & Lesson Plans


Instant Resources for Paul's Case by Willa Cather!


Whether you're looking for a short story to pair with the novel you're teaching, or you need a 2- to 3-day sub plan to use with the stories in your textbooks, Prestwick House Instant Short Story Packs go beyond basic comprehension to help students learn how to analyze literature. 

Each downloadable pack addresses key skills through 5-10 standards-based analysis questions by guiding students through a series of scaffolding graphic organizers and in-class activities. 

This Instant Short Story Pack for Paul's Case by Willa Cather includes:

  • Scaffolding graphic organizers and in-class activities
  • Standards-based objectives
  • Introduction and pre-reading notes
  • Complete short story text
  • Rigorous analysis questions
  • Detailed teacher's answer guide


About Paul's Case

“Paul’s Case: A Study in Temperament” is the only story that Cather allowed to be anthologized. It was first published in 1905 in McClure’s Magazine. Later that year, she included it in her first short-story collection, The Troll Garden. While Cather herself claimed that the story was inspired by her experiences as a high school teacher, most scholars and critics look to the story’s subtitle, “A Study in Temperament,” to understand what Cather wants to achieve in this story.

Most critics look to the words case, study, and temperament to support a claim that “Paul’s Case” is a psychological study more than a typical story. There is still considerable disagreement about whether Cather is inviting her readers to examine the case of a suicidal adolescent, a narcissistic personality, or an alienated young man looking for the place he fits in.

As you read the story, notice the unusual techniques Cather uses, especially the fact that except for three bits of dialogue, the story is almost entirely exposition—information presented to the reader by the narrator. All of the exposition, though third person and impersonal, is tightly filtered through Paul’s point of view. None of the judgments or evaluations are objective, nor are they the narrator’s—they are all Paul’s. Thus, Cather allows us to experience life as Paul experiences it while, at the same time, inviting us to judge Paul in the same way that his teachers do at the beginning of the story.

This is one of those stories that will likely raise as many questions for you as settle them. If you find yourself reaching the end with mixed feelings of sympathy and aversion toward Paul, it is probably because that is precisely what Cather wanted you to do.