Why is the story called "Paul's Case"?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title "Paul's Case" immediately evokes the idea of some kind of court or psychiatric case. The story revolves around Paul, who does commit a crime. He steals money and travels to New York to live a life of richness and grandeur. When he is caught, he commits suicide rather than return to his average, dreary life in Pittsburgh.

But the theme of the story turns to what drove Paul to act in such a way. It asks the question, is Paul just a "bad case" who has a deviant personality or is he driven by the pursuit of the American dream? He loves culture and beautiful art.  So is he really immoral or just a person who loves illusion so much he loses his " grip on reality"?