Please explain this phrase and what does she mean by Unnaturally in "Paul's case" by Willa Cather."Here and there on the corners whole flower gardens blooming behind glass windows against with the...

Please explain this phrase and what does she mean by Unnaturally in "Paul's case" by Willa Cather.

"Here and there on the corners whole flower gardens blooming behind glass windows against with the snow flakes stuck and melted; violets roses carnation, lilies of the valley---somehow vastly more lovely and alluring that they blossomed THUS UNNATURALLY in the snow."

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Paul's Case" by Willa Cather the use of the word "unnatural" is significant.

Paul is a young man who detests the reality of his life. Although he is a middle-class, well-educated youth from a respectable household, the natural order of things does not appeal to his nature.

It is all best explained in the story where we find out more about Paul's thought process

Perhaps it was because, in Paul's world, the natural nearly always wore the guise of ugliness, that a certain element of artificiality seemed to him necessary in beauty. Perhaps it was because his experience of life elsewhere was so full of Sabbath-school picnics, petty economies, wholesome advice as to how to succeed in life, and the unescapable odours of cooking, that he found this existence so alluring, these smartly-clad men and women so attractive, that he was so moved by these starry apple orchards that bloomed perennially under the lime-light.

When Paul sees the flowers behind the display window so unnaturally fresh-looking against the frost of the air, he reinforces  his love for the aesthetics, and not the realities, of life. It is as if Paul sees reality in what is not real, nor possible.

Therefore, Paul hates the natural and the realistic because his nature is too feeble to tolerate imperfection, nor ugliness. With reality comes the possibility of morbidity and this is something that Paul could never comprehend. Instead, he moves towards the extreme opposite, which is to only accept perfection. Even if this perfection is fake.

Read the study guide:
Paul's Case

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question