Paul’s Case

by

Willa Cather

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Paul’s father Character Analysis

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 of Cordelia Street, and his greatest hope for his son is that he get a good job, earn a living, marry, and settle down into a comfortable existence. The narrator doesn’t condemn Paul’s father or his practical sensibility, even as Paul loathes everything his father represents. Paul’s father is depicted as loving his son, but exhibits a radical failure to perceive—and perhaps a willed blindness—regarding what his son is actually experiencing and suffering. However, it’s implied that he may not be so unaware of his son’s homosexuality when Paul is forbidden from seeing Charley Edwards. Toward the end of the story, Paul’s father pays back the money Paul stole from work and comes looking for Paul in New York, which is the terror that prompts Paul to kill himself.
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Paul’s father Character Timeline in Paul’s Case

The timeline below shows where the character Paul’s father appears in Paul’s Case. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Art and Artificiality vs. Reality  Theme Icon
Alienation and Homosexuality Theme Icon
Money and Wealth  Theme Icon
...the excitement is coming to an end: he’s now faced with the prospect of his father in pajamas awaiting him, with lies and attempted explanations, with his room with its dismal... (full context)
Alienation and Homosexuality Theme Icon
Paul almost can’t bear the thought of his father’s reproaches for his late arrival and the improvised excuses he’ll have to make. He decides... (full context)
Alienation and Homosexuality Theme Icon
Money and Wealth  Theme Icon
Paul’s sisters talk to their neighbors about the shirt-waists they’ve embroidered recently. Paul’s father chats with a young man holding a baby, a clerk for a steel company magnate... (full context)
Alienation and Homosexuality Theme Icon
Money and Wealth  Theme Icon
After dinner Paul asks his father if he can have a dime for the streetcar to see his friend George and... (full context)
Art and Artificiality vs. Reality  Theme Icon
Alienation and Homosexuality Theme Icon
...because of the work he’s doing at the stock company. The Principal goes to Paul’s father. Paul is taken out of school, “put to work,” and barred from being an usher... (full context)
Part 2
Money and Wealth  Theme Icon
...arriving, Paul reads about himself in the Pittsburgh papers. Denny & Carson announced that Paul’s father has paid back the full amount his son stole, and that the minister is still... (full context)
Art and Artificiality vs. Reality  Theme Icon
Alienation and Homosexuality Theme Icon
Money and Wealth  Theme Icon
...night before. He finds he has a rare feeling of clear-headedness. He realizes that his father is now in New York. He has barely a hundred dollars left, and he has... (full context)