Willa Cather elegantly and respectfully addresses the many flaws and differences of character of her main character, Paul.
Cather sincerely points out that Paul is, indeed, not quite fit for his surroundings. Instead of making this become a point of contention that would make the reader dislike her main character, Cather is as equally contemptuous about Paul's surroundings. This helps the reader understand that Paul's dislike of his circumstances is not a result of him being spoiled, nor ungrateful. The author is clear in pointing out that Paul's surroundings are not proportional to his nature. That Cordelia street is simply a very very tacky and stuffy place in comparison to Paul's sophisticated and feeble nature.
Cather is also cordial in explaining how Paul is naturally happy when he is exposed to beautiful surroundings. He is also equally depressed when he is taken away from beauty. We can tell from this that Cather is presenting us with a character which has a real physical need for aesthetics which affects considerably his psyche.
For this reason, we can readily conclude that Cather wants us to see Paul as an exceptional and unique case not to be judged, but analyzed.