Paul's Case Questions and Answers
by Willa Cather

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In "Paul's Case", what details of Paul's appearance and behavior, as his teachers see him, indicate that he is abnormal?

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In the first few paragraphs of "Paul's Case," we are given various details of Paul's appearance and behavior, some of which are focalized through the viewpoint of his teachers while others are apparently direct observations by the author.

In the former category, Paul's slightly dandified appearance and the red carnation in his buttonhole do not, in the opinion of the faculty, show a sufficiently contrite spirit for the occasion. "Abnormal" may be a strong word for this, but it does suggest a sense that Paul does not understand what is fitting, a sense which increases as the story progresses and is voiced by the drawing master. It is then revealed that what they really take exception to is Paul's "hysterically defiant manner" and his refusal to conceal the contempt they all know he feels for them. This description, along with the example of his shrinking away from the least physical contact with his English teacher, suggests at least a lack of social skills.

Paul exhibits the same...

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