Paul was a self-oriented boy, concerned with money, wealth, and glamour, raised in a Calvinist household that supported these ideals. Through my research I have decided that Paul's eventual fate was not any one person's fault. Paul was just as much to blame as his father and teachers for Paul's suicide.
Paul was never content with his house on Cordelia Street and was always dreaming about "movin' on up" while he worked at Carnegie Hall and watched the actors and actresses move about in their stately attire and live in the most luxurious of hotel suites. Because of this dream to get out of the area in which he lived, Paul hardly ever got along with his teachers and his father. The thought of taking full advantage of his education, the method of ensuring that he would get away from Cordelia Street forever and be able to live life the way he saw fit, never occurred to him. Instead, Paul dreamed of living life in high society. As a matter of fact, Paul dreamed his way OUT of school; he was removed from school by his father, after Paul let his dreams get away from him and out his mouth. He was put to work with all hopes of succeeding, and reaching his dream drifting farther and farther away. Paul's only chance, it seemed was to steal the money he needed and live off of it for as long as he could.
Paul stole more than $1000, enough to live for a month in New York City, at the time of the story, and only if spent cautiously. But, no... Paul would have none of that. It would have been a waste to have more money than he had ever seen in his life, and yet live just as he had throughout his life. He wanted to live in style, the way the rich folks did. So, Paul spent the money within a week on all the best clothes, the best food, the best hotel room, the best flowers, and the best life. The money disappeared within a week and Paul was forced to leave it all behind and return to the dreariness of middle class existence.
Paul's damaged psyche could not bear to return the living-dead life that he hoped he had left behind forever, so he removed the living part with the help of a very large, very loud locomotive.
Paul's father had abused him emotionally, and probably physically, throughout Paul's life. He did so much to Paul's flagging self-image that he had to boast to others to make himself feel big, when he felt tiny inside. When he finally achieved that "bigness" that he always wanted, the glamour of "the good life," his father found him out and took that away from him, or rather, made Paul give it up. This made Paul feel even smaller and made him feel that he would be better off dead. So Paul decided to make his life "better off" and he "offed" himself. This was Paul's fathers share of the blame.
Paul's teachers didn't understand Paul and didn't understand his different learning methods, or his abusive home life. They made Paul feel as if he were inferior to the other students, and that he was not worthy of their extra time for tutoring sessions, which only further discouraged Paul from wanting to learn. If they had understood his needs better, he may not have gotten into so much trouble in school. He might not have felt it was necessary to ignore and make fun of the teachers if they had made an effort to get to know him. Unfortunately though, they made Paul feel like an outsider, only stomping on his already small image of self-worth. Paul did not feel like the teachers deemed him worthy of their time so he transposed that to mean that school was not worthy of his time, so he blew it off with a shrug.
All of these things, Paul's lack of drive, his father's lack of love,
and his teachers' lack of effort combined to make Paul's life a very
dismal one, and one that could be ended without much of a thought on
Paul's part. Paul considered shooting himself with the gun he bought, then
decided it wasn't worth it in the next minute, and then the very next day
he kills himself anyway by throwing himself into a train. Paul did not
have the most stable of lives to say the least, and he was not the
happiest of people. One must wonder if Paul ever had a chance of not
committing suicide with the life he led. Perhaps that was the only way out