“Paul’s Case”
Critical Approaches
New Critical: word choice, motifs,
Queer theory:
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)
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
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
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
Realism vs Naturalism
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,
“Paul’s Case” = Realism. Paul can be seen as
having some options, making some bad choices.
Details of life are realistic, not grotesque.

"Paul`s Case" Interpretation/Critical Theory PowerPoint