Paul’s Case


Willa Cather

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Paul’s Case Characters


The protagonist of Cather’s story is described in careful physical and behavioral detail. Tall and thin, with bright, glassy eyes, Paul sticks out from his fellow students both in his appearance—he wears dandyish accessories like… read analysis of Paul

Paul’s father

A Pittsburgh businessman who, having lost his wife, is raising Paul and his daughters alone. Paul’s father is unable to connect with or understand his son. He seems to have embraced the plodding, bourgeois life… read analysis of Paul’s father

Charley Edwards

A young actor who works in the “stock company” of a theatre in Pittsburgh, Charley Edwards has developed a liking for Paul, who loiters around his dressing-room, watching him get ready for the shows… read analysis of Charley Edwards

The English Teacher

One of Paul’s teachers at school, this teacher is particularly angry about what she sees as Paul’s impertinence—she feels personally offended by Paul’s seemingly physical aversion to her, and she leads the attack against him… read analysis of The English Teacher

The Yale Freshman

A boy from San Francisco whom Paul meets in New York, described as “wild.” The two boys share a late night out on the town together. This is another male character who, it’s implied, might… read analysis of The Yale Freshman
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Minor Characters
The Principal
The Principal of Pittsburgh High School convenes the hearing that opens the story, in which the other teachers try to describe what Paul has done to deserve suspension. The Principal, like the other teachers, is suspicious of Paul’s plucky attitude, interpreting it as utter disrespect.
The Drawing Master
Another teacher at Paul’s school, who is the first to wonder if there’s something truly wrong with Paul beyond mere impertinence.
The German soloist
A middle-aged singer who performs at Carnegie Hall. The fact that Paul imagines her as a kind of romantic princess in her tiara and gown emphasizes his idealization of the world of the arts, and also reveals his fascination with feminine things that most young men wouldn’t find interesting.
The Clerk
One of the Cordelia Street neighbors, who was once more rebellious but has since settled down and married an older woman. He works in business and represents, to Paul’s father, the ideal kind of bourgeois life to which Paul should aspire.