What is the symbolism of Nora's dad's coat in Neil Simon's play Brighton Beach Memoirs?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Neil Simon's play Brighton Beach Memoirs, the pockets of Nora and Laurie's father represent both security and loss of security.

Nora relates that when their father was alive, six years prior to the start of the play, their father would tell Nora to search his coat pocket for a treat. She describes finding "all these terrific things in there," such as candy, gum, movie stubs, loose change, and his suede gloves that both sisters remember so fondly. She even describes the pocket as feeling as big and secure "as big as a tent," and she "wanted to crawl in there and go to sleep." Since Nora felt secure enough searching through the pocket that she could imagine herself sleeping it, we see that the pocket symbolizes a sense of security. Morever, since it was full of so many items that are now scarce during the Great Depression, including gum, candy, and change, his pocket also symbolizes abundance.

However, at the time of the play, their father has been dead for six years. Plus, the whole world has been hit by the Great Depression. The two girls are living with their mother in their aunt's home, and their uncle Jack is working two jobs to try to provide for the whole family. Uncle Jack even sadly announces losing his second job in the very first act. Hence, the father's pocket also symbolizes the loss of security and abundance the girls are now facing.

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