Why does Paul feel the need to lie to everyone in "Paul's Case"?

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Paul sees lying as a way to cope with the life of Cordelia Street.  Paul sees his life as comprising of experiences in which "days and nights out of the dreary blanks of the calendar, when his senses were deadened."  This conformist condition of being is something that does not...

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appeal to Paul.  He lucidly understands that lying is a way to endure this form of consciousness, a realization that he fully grasps when he was in New York:  

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 be noticed and admired, to assert his difference from other Cordelia Street boys; and he felt a good deal more manly, more honest even, now that he had no need for boastful pretensions, now that he could, as his actor friends used to say, "dress the part."

Lying was the way Paul dealt with the reality of Cordelia Street and its perceived banality.  As Paul developed "a shuddering repulsion for the flavorless, colorless mass of every-day existence," lying became his way of coping with it.  For Paul, the need to lie is what enabled him to endure life.  It is for this reason that he considers suicide as the only plausible option for him.  Living a life in New York where he no longer had to lie became a reality that could not be surrendered.  Going back and thus reverting back to lying were no longer viable options for Paul.

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Why does Paul lie?

The narrator of this story by Willa Cather provides information about Paul’s actions and a few clues to the reasons that Paul behaves the way he does. The narrator says that Paul is accustomed to lying to smooth over the all-too-common friction. Paul is not living the life he thinks he should live, so he tries to be someone else. Throughout the story, Paul tells several different kinds of lies, in addition to neglecting to tell the whole truth. While still in Pittsburgh, he is obviously unhappy, which leads to his father forcing him to take a job. Stealing money from his employer is one kind of untruth, which he compounds by moving to New York without telling anyone. The success he has enjoyed so far probably encourages him to go further. Once he arrives in Manhattan, he essentially creates a new identity. Although the lies he tells to maintain that identity are outrageous, it may be that he sees them as the truth. The “new” Paul is more faithful to his internal idea of himself: he has fabricated an illusion that he tries, but fails, to maintain.

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