The Emotional Place of “Paul’s Case”
The main character, a challenging adolescent boy named Paul, has an almost inexplicable ability at irritating every person he comes in contact with. He finds his education trivial, a sense of superiority towards his peers, and a general distaste for everything in his suburban neighborhood on Cordelia Street. At first glance, Paul appears to be suffering from the typical adolescent angst. However, his actions and frame of mind are better defined by Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPR). Paul demonstrates several symptoms of this mental illness such as, “preoccupation with fantasies that focus on unlimited success, power, intelligence, beauty or love, the belief
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Paul demonstrates his desire to sustain those feelings by going to an extreme, stealing money in order to live the life among the New York cultured elite, which he felt he inherently deserved. One of the first things that Paul indulged in once he got to New York City was a clothing shopping spree and, “spent more than an hour in dressing, watching every stage of his toilet carefully in the mirror…he was exactly the kind of boy he always wanted to be” (Cather 221). Paul’s fixation with himself is similar to that of the mythic god Narcissus, for which the personality trait Narcissist is name, who “fell in love with his own reflection. He stayed watching reflection and let himself die” (Encyclopedia Mythica). Even though Paul knew that his time spent in his New York life was limited, he was finally was able to escape from the people in Pittsburgh who did not grasp that he was “special”, and was able to enter the world where the other “special” people were who would understand him in New York City. Paul feels as if he is the most sophisticated person in his suburban hometown in Pittsburgh. He also feels the need to show how much more sophisticated and important he is than his suburban peers.