How do I write a critical response essay on the short story of "Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket"?The Essay topic is: Discuss the idea(s) developed by the text creator in your chosen text about the...

How do I write a critical response essay on the short story of "Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket"?

The Essay topic is: Discuss the idea(s) developed by the text creator in your chosen text about the interplay between fear and making life altering choices. I have 3 supporting evidence. 1.)Job 2.) When first Tom goes out the window 3.) Crisis

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It sounds as if you already have a number of great ideas there that you can develop. What you need to do now is find textual evidence to support what you think about these points. To me, what is key to focus on is how the journey Tom takes out of his apartment actually changes him as a person by the end of the short story. At the beginning of the tale we are presented with a complete workaholic who leaves his wife to go out to the cinema by herself because he is driven by the pursuit of illusory and intangible goals such as success and wealth. This of course really drives him to do what he does when his crucial paper is blown out of the window and becomes stuck to the exterior wall. His decision to go out and risk his life to get it comes after a period of introspection where he considers the value of that paper:

Even though his plan was adopted, he told himself, it wouldn't bring him a raise in pay - not immediately, anyway, or as a direct result. It won't bring me a promotion either, he argued - not of itself.

But just the same - and he couldn't escape the thought - this and other independent projects, some already done and others planned for the future, would gradually make him out from the score of other young men in his company. They were the way to change from a name on the payroll to a name in the minds of the company officials. They were the beginning of the long, long climb to where he was determined to be - at the very top.

We see his motivation here and his decision to go and get the paper, whatever the cost, as part of his plan to get to "the very top". However, by the end of the story, when he manages to get back into his apartment, he chooses to leave his work and go and find his wife. Even when he opens the door and the same paper wafts out of the same window, his reaction this time is incredibly different:

As he saw the yellow paper, the pencil flying, scooped off the desk and, unimpeded by the glassless window, sail out into the night and out of his life, Tom Benecke burst into laughter and then closed the door behind him.

Tom has apparently learnt the danger of being so obsessed with your work that you forget to live your life, and thus he goes to find his wife and he is able to see the humour in losing the bit of paper that he has just nearly lost all to gain himself.

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