The story "Paul's Case,"" by Willa Cather, uses a lot of symbolism to convey the main character, Paul's, feelings. Flowers, for example, symbolize Paul's personality and life. Cather mentions flowers repeatedly in this short story. At the start of the story, Paul is being subjected to his teachers' criticisms of him at a meeting with his principle on account of being readmitted to school after his suspension. To this meeting, Paul wore " a red carnation in his buttonhole."" The flower he wore showed that he did not care about school or his teachers. His teachers felt "that his whole attitude was symbolized by his shrug and his flippantly red carnation flower."" Even his sympathetic principle felt that when Paul was dismissed and bowed, it was "but a repetition of the scandalous red carnation."" .
The only place that Paul could genuinely feel happy was at his job as an usher at Carnegie Hall. He would get lost in the plays, music, and art while he was there. He wished that he could just stay there and never have to return to his dark home. While Paul was at home, he would dream about the life he believed himself to be living as "a morbid desire for cool things and soft lights and fresh flowers."" To Paul, people who enjoyed having the presence of flowers seemed to be of a higher class above the rest. That is why he always wore a flower. He described the people he despised in his neighborhood to be, "prosy men who never wore frock coats, or violets in their buttonholes."" He dreamt about "the flowers he sent " to members of the stock company who were his "acquaintances."" Paul wished to be like the flowers, existing to all of their extent and living beautifully.
While Paul was in New York City, one of the first things he did was request the bellboy to bring him flowers. In the city, he was living out his fantasies. He loved all types of artistic expression and was captivated by "whole flower gardens blooming behind glass windows, against which the snowflakes stuck and melted; violets, roses, carnations, lilies of the valley-somehow vastly more lovely and alluring that they blossomed thus unnaturally in the snow.