Paul's trouble is that he wants more than the mediocre middle-class existence he has been born into, where the stale smells of cooking linger in his house. He wants more than Sunday School picnics and a dull, low-paying job. He wanders art museums and theaters and dreams of a wealthy life surrounded by all that is luxurious, high quality, and beautiful, not cheap and tawdry.
He wants his dream so badly that he steals a good deal of money from his employer and blows the entire wad of it on an eight-day binge in New Year City. There, he buys fine clothes, eats fine food, stays at the Waldorf, a top hotel, and in all ways experiences the finest life has to offer. At the end, he kills himself.
For Paul, what is good in life is entirely on the surface: he only cares about what money can buy. He lacks interiority: he can find no joy in the inward part of life. He cares inordinately...
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