Essay on Willa Cather

Submitted By yasminsiddiqui
Words: 630
Pages: 3

Name: Yasmin Siddiqui
Professor: Brian Centrone
Writing II: Section 106
February 6th, 2014 “Paul’s Case”
What clues does Cather provide in her story to suggest Paul is gay? Do you think both Paul and the reader are aware of this? What do you think was Cather's intention when writing this story? Using Stevens' "Introduction to Gay and Lesbian Writing," discuss the significance of "Paul's Case as a piece of gay writing, and how, over 100 years after its publication, it is still relevant.
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In the short story by Willa Cather, the protagonist’s sexual interests are not outspoken but inferred from some of the instances. Cather’s subtle description of the boy’s misconduct “was scarcely possible to put into words” indicates a certain hint of homosexuality which by the twentieth century hadn’t completely become a topic of open discussion (Cather, par. 3). This phrase directs the reader to believe there was something unusual about the protagonist. Yet another depiction of homosexuality in the character was his heeding concern about his clothing and his sensitivity about his narrow chest. The author mentions, “He was always considerably excited while he dressed, twanging…, and he teased and plagued the boys until, telling him that he was crazy, they put him down on the floor and sat on him” (Cather, par. 12). These detailed statements allow readers to imagine a homosexual stereotype being formed by Cather.
Another significant clue that Cather plants in her story is when Paul withdraws his hand leaving the female teacher embarrassed. The teachers’ discomfort of being around Paul is one of strong evidence of him being gay: “He had made all his teachers, men and women alike, conscious of the same feeling of physical aversion” (Cather, par. 3). Cather does not set any obvious rules to guide the story, therefore, it is not evident if Paul was aware of his homosexual inclinations. However, the phrase “he had looked into the dark corner at last and knew” could be an indication that Paul had known all along but wasn’t willing to accept the fact until the last few moments of his life (Cather, par. 63). With the ambiguous hints of Paul’s homosexuality, the readers might have the slightest idea of what Cather effectively tries to portray through her story.
Cather’s intention when writing the story is not vivid but it may be inferred that if she openly…