Paul's Case is about a young, Calvinist man who
did not feel that he belonged in his life. He lived on
Cordelia Street in Pittsburgh, PA. Cordelia Street
was littered with cookie cutter houses, suburbanite-like city-dwellers,
and a general aura of despair. Paul's room was no
different. Paul felt that his abusive father,
uncaring teachers, and classmates who misunderstand him aren't worthy of his
presence and company. One of the reasons Paul may not have fit in was
because there is a chance that he was learning disabled.
Paul worked at Carnegie Hall as
an usher. It is here that Paul's real love lies. Paul lost himself in the
music of the symphonies, the characters of the plays, and in the artful
scenery. Paul also enjoyed gallery art, as evidenced by the hours he
spends in an art gallery, staring at one painting, before his shift at
Carnegie one night. He became lost in seemingly all forms of creative
expression, whether it is a floral arrangement
in a shop window or an orchestral swell at the beginning
of a symphony. It is at Carnegie Hall that Paul became struck by the
glitter and the starlight of the stage. He was not starstruck in the
sense that he wanted to perform in any way, he was simply content to
observe others' performances. He is struck in the sense that he wants to
live the way the characters in the plays do. He imagines them living to
all the extent of their money, glutting on beautiful music, art, and life.
Paul, unfortunate for him, was, either reacting to the unfair
treatment of him because of a learning disability, or else he was both a
chronic liar and a rather disobedient student. He wanted everyone to
realize, as he thought he had, that he did not belong among them, and is
only in their presence because he wanted to as a personal, "inside" joke.
He told his classmates that he was close personal friends with all of the
actors, divas, and performers who graced Carnegie's
stage. To back up his claim, he brings in autographed photographs
of the particular performer who happens to be the topic of the day.
One day, he got a bit too full of himself and boasted that he will
leave school for the day because he was needed elsewhere, specifically at
Carnegie to help the stock crew (stage hands). This boast caused the
principal of the school to speak the boy's father, who proceeded to remove
Paul from school and set him to work (but not at Carnegie). Paul begins to
work for a company referred to only as the "firm of Denny and Carson"
or "Denny and Carson's office."
The story cuts away to some time later, when Paul had been working at
Denny and Carson's long enough to earn their trust. Denny and Carson came
to entrust Paul with the week's payroll. His responsibility was to take it
to the bank and make the deposit. One weekend, however, Paul was
instructed to take the ledger in to be balanced, and Paul knew about it
ahead of time. He asked his bosses for the next day, Saturday, off citing
a plausible excuse. When he took the deposit down to the bank on Friday,
Paul pocketed nearly one thousand dollars from the cash in the deposit.
The company would not get the ledger back until Monday, so Paul knew he
had time to get away. Paul boarded a train on Saturday bound for New York
Paul spent little more than a week in New York City, living the good life, the life to which he felt he was born. While in NYC, Paul drank wine, relaxed in his room, and listened to the orchestras and bands in the lobby and dining room. Paul lived to the full extent of the money in his possession. He wore the finest clothes, ate the finest food, and lived in the finest room.
Unfortunate for Paul, however, his money, and his luck, eventually ran out. Paul spent all the money he had stolen within eight days. Paul's father also came looking for him on the eighth day as well. The story of Paul's theft and his father's search was published in quite a few large newspapers, where Paul eventually saw it. Paul stopped in the lobby for one last interlude with the music and proceeded on his way presumably to Pittsburgh.
However, Paul did not ride the train back to Pittsburgh in the way that the reader would expect. Instead, he jumps in front of one, thereby, of course, committing suicide.
Paul's last thoughts are on the things that he will never get to do,
because he ended it all before his time.
Here is a full text of Paul's Case from the Organization for Community Networks' Electronic Bookshelf.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen. It has been brought to my attention that my pages have been linked to by quite a number of other pages providing information on Paul's Case or Willa Cather. To all of you who have done so, I sincerely thank you. However, many of these sites do not provide authorship credit or even acknowledge the work I put into this site. As a matter of fact, many of these references imply that the work was done by the author of the referring pages. They don't even state that they are linking their reader to an external site. I truly do appreciate the respect shown by these people (mostly college professors and high school teachers) who link to my site, but I would certainly appreciate a little bit of recognition. These instructors set a bad example to their students by linking these pages and not recognizing the authors. What they are doing (setting up links to other peoples' pages without proper recognition or reference) is what they would consider plagiarism coming from their students. Y'see, I am not the only one they are doing this to. Many pages have lists and lists of links without recognizing authors. The problem is that the teachers see themselves as beyond reproach and immune to their own rules. I even had one teacher who was so blind that, when presented with this issue, he took the link off of his pages out of spite. Good! Let the students broaden their net skills by finding my pages on their own, and chances are, when they turn in their research papers, they will have learned more by doing the research on their own, and they will more than likely cite me as a source. If you are not going to credit me for the work I have done, I don't want you using it. I am generally near the top of most search engines' lists when searching for Paul's Case, because there are very few pages on this subject. It's an easy search and not a very rewarding one, but it brings people here.
Teachers: Please send your students to the internet to find all that they can, but DO NOT give them the pages right off. Chances are, if you give them the opportunity, you will be pleasantly surprised to see the results they bring you.
Also, and most importantly, by doing this, you are teaching your students that citing their sources is not important, or that web sites do not count as valid sources of information because they are not worth a citation on your own pages. Yet, you expect them to cite their sources on their final assignment to you! How fair and right is that?
I am not going to attack every instance I see of this. I don't care whether or not you place my name next to your link, anyone who reads the top of this page should realize that this page was done by someone else, and there are so many personal references to me that no teacher should want their students thinking they are me. All I would like is that when you refer to a link, AT THE VERY LEAST ACKNOWLEDGE THAT IT IS A LINK TO AN EXTERNAL PAGE. I think other authors of academic pages would agree with this. We get shafted because some teachers do not hold themselves to the same standards to which they hold their students. You should be ashamed if this means you.
Thank you for reading this rant and maybe, just maybe, I have had an effect on a teacher who would otherwise have no right to place him or herself in front of our nation's youth with the temerity to think they are better than their students. If so, congratulations! You may be a real teacher after all! A real teacher learns at least as much from his students as he teaches them.
This page was written, designed, and edited by Paul R. Bixby, Jr. Mail me with any questions, concerns, clarifications, mistakes, or if any of the links are out of date. Thank you.