What does the word "Tod" mean in German? Why is this a symbolically appropriate name for Tod Clifton?

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jameadows's profile pic

jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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"Tod" means "death" in German. It is a symbolically appropriate name for Tod Clifton because, after serving as a member of the Brotherhood, Tod has suddenly disappeared. Brother Jack says, "He has disappeared...So don't waste time with superfluous questions" (page 421). Later, the narrator sees Tod Clifton on the street selling Sambo dolls, which play on stereotypes about African-Americans. While hawking his wares, Tod Clifton sings a song that goes in part, "he lives upon the sunshine of your lordly smile" (page 432). In other words, Tod Clifton has gone from being a member of the Brotherhood to peddling dolls that perpetuate the worst and most horrific stereotypes about African-Americans. In a sense, he is spiritually dead, so the name "Tod" fits him. He is chased by the police and shot by them, so he also winds up dead after leaving the Brotherhood.

mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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In German the word Tod means dead. It is pronounced Tote.  That is not how the word is spelled. I think that it would be fitting because when one is invisible to others one may also feel like one has died.  If you use a German translator you will only get the actual name back because German does not translate names any different.

People often discuss the idea of spirits roaming the earth.  If one thinks about roaming the earth as an invisible person, one could consider that one is spirit like.  I this manner I could see how the name would be fitting since the man feels invisible because of his race.

theresa1005's profile pic

theresa1005 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

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"Tod" is in German a noun and means "death". It is pronounced /to:t/. The corresponding adjective is "tot" and means "dead".

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