Compare Paul and the college boy he meets in New York (paragraph 56) in "Paul's Case." Are they two of a kind? If not, how do they differ?

The Yale student is more experienced and worldly than Paul and, having taken the initiative in their friendship, he also plays a leading role in its demise.

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From the reader's perspective, the chief difference between Paul and the college student he meets is that, while the former is the story's protagonist and is described in some detail, the latter comes and goes in a single brief paragraph and we know very little about him. We are told...

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From the reader's perspective, the chief difference between Paul and the college student he meets is that, while the former is the story's protagonist and is described in some detail, the latter comes and goes in a single brief paragraph and we know very little about him. We are told that he is a "wild" boy from San Francisco and is a freshman at Yale. He is on a short visit to New York and offers to show Paul "the night side of the town." They stay out all night, returning to the hotel at 7:00am. Finally, Cather tells us:

They had started out in the confiding warmth of a champagne friendship, but their parting in the elevator was singularly cool. The freshman pulled himself together to make his train and Paul went to bed.

Since the boy is a college freshman, he is presumably slightly older than Paul. He is described as wild but, unlike Paul, seems able to keep his wildness within socially acceptable limits. The fact that he is a Yale freshman who is familiar with New York City nightlife may well mean that he is the type of wealthy, sophisticated character Paul would like (and is pretending) to be.

It is not entirely clear whether the night-long journey from confiding friendship to coolness is altogether mutual but, if Paul has not had experiences like this before, he may well be the one who is surprised that an friendship which begins instantly is likely to vanish just as quickly.

Since the Yale student is the one who offers to take Paul out (and clearly the leader and motive force behind their expedition) it is likely that he is rather less naive and more accustomed to the social dynamics of such situations than Paul. He and Paul are not two of a kind, and they have evidently discovered this by the time they part ways.

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They are not “two of a kind.” We don’t know much about this person Paul meets in New York, except that he is a Yale student, older than Paul, and that they spend a night together seeing the town. They seem to hit it off well at first, but their parting is “singularly cool.” While it’s not clear what happened that night, it does seem like the “college boy“ represents for Paul the sort of life he ought to be leading. Unlike Paul, who had to steal to afford his own “flyer” to New York, the college boy really is rich and can run off to New York whenever he wants. It’s not clear what happens to cool their relationship. One possibility is he discovers that Paul is an impostor—that Paul really isn’t from his social class. Another possibility is that he finds out that Paul is gay and rejects him. In either case, what separates them is the recognition that, despite appearances, they really are completely different. For the college boy, Paul must come across as desperate and perhaps a little frightening; for Paul, he must come to realize that outward appearances will not get him, in the end, the kind of acceptance he wants so badly.

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In Willa Cather's "Paul's Case," Paul meets up with a "college boy" in paragraph 55, rather than paragraph 56.  We don't know much about this boy who is taking a "little flyer" away from Yale, but most of what we do know suggests he is different from Paul, rather than just like him.  He is older than Paul, attends Yale (so he's likely a better and more serious student than Paul), and he manages to pull himself together and make his train while Paul goes to bed.  Less importantly, the boy is from the West coast, San Francisco, while Paul is from the East, Pittsburgh. 

The two do spend an entire night seeing the "night side of town" together, but their parting is "singularly cool." 

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