If the red carnations give Paul a chance to express himself and to take solace in beauty, the yellow wallpaper coating his room has the opposite function. Its drab, dull quality reminds Paul of the painful contrast between his own dreams and the comparatively conservative values of Cordelia Street. Yellow is coded for him as an ugly, even sickly color. Once again, it’s a reminder of how the story uses visual descriptions to differentiate between the value systems that Paul embraces or rejects. In referring back to Paul’s yellow-wallpapered room at various points, the story links this visual characteristic to the emotional and cultural atmosphere of Cordelia Street. Like Cordelia Street more generally, the wallpaper from his room on Cordelia street becomes a symbol of everything he dreads about his home life, including the suffocating atmosphere that make him feel it is impossible for him to be himself.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Yellow Wallpaper appears in Paul’s Case. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...in pajamas awaiting him, with lies and attempted explanations, with his room with its dismal yellow wallpaper and pictures of famous men above his bed, and the motto “Feed my lambs” which... (full context)
...his jail, will now close over him forever. Years of Sabbath-school, the repulsion of the yellow-papered room, all rush back at him. He feels that the orchestra has stopped playing. Looking... (full context)