Lifes Tragedies I had always believed that suicide was only in the movies. Two summers ago I realized that it could happen in real life. I had a mutual friend his name was Rick. He was a smart and good-looking boy who seemed to have it all. His parents were two of the nicest people that I have ever met.
They had a healthy marriage, good jobs, and a nice home. They always provided Rick with anything he needed or wanted. Rick had a girlfriend named Jamie and a lot of friends. He was also supposed to attend the University of Pittsburgh in the fall of 1997. Something was obviously missing in his life because it ended abruptly one night after a going away party for him.
He went upstairs and took his best friend with him and pulled out a gun and shot himself in the head before his friend could figure out what was happening. He is a good example of a tragic life that was lost. In the story Pauls Case, Willa Cather shows that Paul is destroyed by a conflict with a hostile environment. Everyone in his or her life encounters some type of conflict. Whether it is with a person or a thing.
Pauls first conflict is with his teachers. A good example is demonstrated in the passage about his English teacher: Once, when he had been making a synopsis of a paragraph at the blackboard, his English teacher had stepped to his side and attempted to guide his hand. Paul had started back with a shudder and thrust his hands violently behind him (Willa Cather, “Pauls Case”, Story and Structure, Ed. L. Perrine, p.
155). From this example it is evident that Paul is an independent individual and does not want the help of his teachers. Another example came from the passage, which took place during a meeting with his principal and his teachers: His teachers felt this afternoon that his whole attitude was symbolized by his shrug and his flippantly red carnation flower, and they fell upon him without mercy, his English teacher leading the pack (“Pauls Case”, p. 155). Among the problems between Paul and his teachers, Paul had conflict with his father too.
The best example is when Paul walks around his house: Meanwhile, he was wet and cold. He went around to the back of the house and tried one of the basement windows, found it open, and raised it cautiously, and scrambled down the cellar wall to the floor.. he was horribly afraid of rats, so he did not try to sleep, he sat looking distrustfully at the dark, still terrified lest he might have awakened his father (“Pauls Case”, p. 159). It is obvious that Paul is terrified of his father and would do anything to steer away from him.
A second example is shown when Pauls father goes to Carnegie Hall: The upshot of the matter was that the principal went to Pauls father, and Paul was taken out of school and put to work. The manager at Carnegie Hall was told to get another usher in his stead; the doorkeeper at the theater was warned not to admit him to the house: and Charley Edwards remorsefully promised the boys father not to see him again (“Pauls Case”, p. 162). This was the climax of the story that caused Paul to be even more upset. Working at the theater was what he enjoyed and his father took that away from him. This left him feeling lonely and upset.
Among the problems with his father and his teachers Paul had conflict with his environment too. An example is when Paul walks down Cordelia Street: The following Sunday was fine.. On Seasonable Sunday afternoons the burghers of Cordelia Street usually sat out in their front stoops, and talked to their neighbors on the next stoop, or called to those across the street in neighborly fashion. The men sat placidly on gay cushions placed upon the steps that led down to the sidewalk while the women, in their Sunday waists, sat in rockers on the cramped porches, pretending to be greatly at their ease (“Pauls Case”, p. 158).
The second example is demonstrated in the passage where Paul approaches his house: The nearer he approached the house, the more absolutely unequal he felt to the sight of it all: his ugly sleeping chamber; the old bathroom with the grimy zinc tub, the cracked mirror, the dripping spigots (“Pauls Case”, p. 158). Unfortunately, Pauls interests were not the same as his fathers. He felt his teachers were of no help and they did not challenge him, as he would have liked. His environment did not live up to his standards either. He was interested in the theater and this differed from the people who lived around him.
Because of these circumstances he sold himself short by taking his own life: As he fell, the folly of his haste occurred to him with merciless clearness, the vastness of what he had left undone. There flashed through his brain, clearer that ever before, the blue of Adriatic water, the yellow of Algerian Sands (“Pauls Case”, p. 169). Paul is destroyed by a conflict with a hostile environment. Paul lost the struggle against his own lifes conflicts and ended in tragedy.