, a short story written by Willa Cather depicts a boy’s silent revolt against the sordid reality of his drab existence - the wretchedness of Cordelia Street where he lived. It would seem to suggest that America’s relentless pursuit of the good life is apt to corrupt young impressionable minds, making them yearn for things beyond their reach. Paul’s teachers are outraged by his seeming insolence and defiance although they acknowledge something is not right with the boy, who is tall and thin and sickly. Paul has the propensity to lie about everything, regaling his classmates with stories about famous people he knew. He lives in a dream world, fired up mostly by his scrap book of detailed luxury taken from Sunday papers, where he indulges his fancy for soft, stylish living. Paul hates Cordelia Street whose inhabitants preach nothing but ways to succeed in life. His father in fact wants him to emulate a young man who had married for money.
Working as an usher in the theatre, Paul imagines himself among the cultured guests. As his imaginations soared, Paul’s reputation at school worsened until he was booted out and put to work. Paul’s tragedy becomes inevitable as he absconds with the money entrusted to him by his employer. He lodges at a luxurious hotel in New York City and there lives up his fantasies. As his money is used up, Paul is traced and his father embarks on a trip to bring him back home. Paul decides to play the role of a wealthy young man to the very end. As he leaves the hotel towards the tracks, he compares his defiant stand to that of the flower that freezes in the snow. Determined never to return to Cordelia Street, he flings himself before a moving train.