“Paul’s Case”
Critical Approaches
New Critical: word choice, motifs,
symbols

Queer theory:
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gender non-conformity and possible
homosexuality indicated by Cather’s choice of
words to describe Paul, his actions, etc. The
CODED text!
Frustrated Romanticism:

also indicated by motifs and word choice
(also see Social Critique)
Psychological
Story originally subtitled “A Study in
Temperament”; what is Paul a “case”
study of?




Delusions of grandeur
Learning Disabilities
Other mental/emotional illnesses
Child abuse?
see also:
Queer theory
Social Critique


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unfettered capitalism (c.f. Maggie): haves
and have-nots (“Marxists critique”)
society’s rejection of non-conformists;
mechanized modern world esp. brutal
the impracticality (even danger) of
Romantic ideals in the Modern world
also see queer theory
(homophobia/heterosexism)
Feminist Theory

Rejection of the “feminine”


(Tom Boy vs. “Jane Girl”)
Triviality of the female’s role in society
Overview of Realism/Naturalism
the Gilded Age


What has the American Dream
metamorphosed into?
What has happened to the concept of
democracy vis-à-vis capitalism by the late
1800s?
Realism vs Naturalism

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Maggie = Naturalism. Not just a “slice of life”
but reality manipulated to show how human
lives are at the mercy of environment and social
circumstances. Details of life often grotesque,
exaggerated.
“Paul’s Case” = Realism. Paul can be seen as
having some options, making some bad choices.
Details of life are realistic, not grotesque.
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"Paul`s Case" Interpretation/Critical Theory PowerPoint