Journal#4 Carol Lin
Page 1 No.59
Why are the teachers humiliated to have felt so vindictive toward a mere boy like Paul? I think it's because they feel they can't control over Paul. They can't see through Paul's mind for Paul isn't simply a stupid bad boy. It's nearly impossible for the teachers to put in words the real cause of the trouble. They don't really try to understand Paul. They just judge him by their adult moral attitude. "His eyes were remarkable for a certain hysterical brilliancy and he continually use them in a conscious, theatrical sort of way, peculiarly offensive in a boyíKbut there was a glassy glitter about them which that drug does not produce."
In one way, Paul is indeed a typical misfit student. He isn't interested in school and textbooks. He doesn't show respect toward his teachers. But in another way, he is much more sensitive. That's why he suffers and struggles between reality and ideal. He feels so much about his cold, realistic, and art-lacking hometown-Pittsburgh that he really wants to get rid of life there and live a totally different one, which is full of art, romance, and wealth. We can see this through Paul's description of two worlds:
(1) Real world-the school, Paul's room, Cordelia Street, and Pittsburgh
1. The School
Paul thinks his life in school is just "a sleep and a forgetting," and he regards his classroom as a repulsive and very unpleasant place for it has only bare flowers, naked wall, and dull trivial
2. Paul's Room
His room is simple and old-styled. There are horrible yellow wallpaper, wooden beds, and pictures and framed motto, which mean the stress on hard working
3. Cordelia Street and Pittsburgh
All the houses there are alike, and people there are interested in arithmetic, all of whom are exactly alike their homes. "the hopeless feeling of sinking back forever into ugliness and commonness that he had always had when he came home."
(2) Ideal World-the Carnegie Hall, theatre, soprano's hotel room, and New York
1. Carhegie Street and theater
"It was at the theater and at Carnegie Hall that Paul really lived." He "felt within him the possibility of doing or saying splendid, brilliant, poetic things.'
2. Soprano's hotel room
The room is warm and lighted in Paul's imagination and it 's exotic and luxury for it has mysterious dishes and green bottles. What he wants are cool things such as soft lights and fresh flowers in his fairy world.
4. Now York
Now York is a final and real ideal for Paul-at least he thought so. He even uses the memory of books he read to reach his dream. He adds "flowers" to the hotel room. He also experiences the luxurious and upper life in Now York. For him, those artificial things there are his beauty and comfort.
Paul's death at the end is the biggest impact in my heart. Maybe we would say he doesn't have to suicide to solve his problem but since he makes this decision, we can imagine how he fears to go backtrack and to face his father as well. I'm strongly sympathetic toward him because all he asks is just freedom to seek for his dream-bathed under the blue-and-white Mediterranean shore. But I firmly believe "death" is his best rest if he can't let go his ideal in this realistic world. "Perhaps it was because his experience of life elsewhere was full of Sabbath-School picnics, petty economics, wholesome advice as to how to succeed in life, and the unescapable odors of cooking, that he found this existence so alluring, these smartly-clad men and women so attractive, that he was so moved by these starry apple orchards that bloomed under the lime-light."
Paul has had his secret temple and his wishing carpet. I would rather think so.