Why is this story called “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket”?

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jblederman's profile pic

jblederman | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Tom imagines what would be said about him if he plunged to his death. It would be natural to look for identification, and anyone who did so would simply find the interoffice memo, and no other defining possessions or indication of who Tom was.

The title is ironic, because Tom survives, but his experience teaches him something incredibly valuable: to not be a man defined by his work. The memo had illegible scribblings on it. It was significant of nothing. If Tom were to leave his apartment now and get struck by a bus, he would be the man going to meet his wife at the movies, not the man stuck at home working during a weekend. The contents of his pocket(and symbolically, his life) would be much different.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In addition to the answers already given, I believe that the author chose that title for his story because, once Tom is out on that ledge, the reader naturally expects him to fall. The title seems to predict that he is going to fall to his death and that the police will go through his pockets in order to identify him. It is a little deceptive, but the author justifies the title by showing that it is something the terrified man is only imagining. The situation is frightening enough without the title, but the title makes it even more frightening for the reader, who is identifying with Tom and imagining that he himself (the reader) is out on that ledge clinging to the brick wall, afraid to look down, forcing himself to move inch by inch, because there is no one to help him but himself.

alinunu199994's profile pic

alinunu199994 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

the story is given that name because it had to with  life and death

and the pocket in the  title symolizes toms life now since tom hasnt died than why is the title the content of a dead mans pocket

the reason for that is when was on the building he thought he was going to fall and if he fell of that building he would have died and kno one would have known who he is  or where he came from so he would be recognized as an unkown man while and tom had learne d a lesso throughout this experience and that is to not be the man who spend his time on work and is known by that

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