Paul's Case Questions and Answers
by Willa Cather

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Why do you think Paul commits suicide? Do you think there is a way that he may have regretted the decision to end his life?

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Paul commits suicide because the perceived banality of his existence is overwhelming.  Once he escapes to New York, Paul recognizes a life that is beyond his world of Cordelia Street.  Cather illuminates how Paul's life prior to his escape to New York is one in which the mere act of living requires him to lie and deceive others as well as himself in order to simply live:  

The mere release from the necessity of petty lying, lying every day and every day, restored his self−respect. He had never lied for pleasure, even at school; but to make himself noticed and admired, to assert his difference from other Cordelia Street boys...

Cather's characterization of Paul is one in which his nonconformity is representative of struggle.  To simply be who he was, Paul had to resort to an endless charade of lies and deception.  This is where life in New York offered him so much in way of release: "He felt a good deal more manly, more honest, even, now that he had no need for...

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