Does Tom experience internal conflict or external conflict?Jack Finney's "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket"

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Tom Benecke of Jack Finney's "Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets" experiences both external and internal conflicts:

external conflicts - man vs. environment

When the yellow sheet containing Tom's assiduously collected data blows out the eleventh-story window, he climbs out to retrieve it and finds himself in danger on the ledge as he risks his life to regain it.  When he does grasp the paper, Tom learns that he faces another challenge from his environment as the window from which he climbed has now slammed shut.  He must risk death by punching the window's glass as hard as he can without losing his balance so that he can return to safety.

internal conflicts - man vs. inner self

Tom's wife desires that he accompany her to the movies, but his tremendous yearning for success in the business world causes Tom to submerge his personal relationship; he tells his wife that he must finish his calculations so he can submit his report on Monday, but he will meet her later.  However, when he finds himself in the life-threatening situation on the ledge, Tom's inner conflict begins to resolve as in his effort to break the glass of the closed window, he cries out, "Clare!"  Once safely inside, Tom pulls his overcoat from the closet so he can leave to meet his wife at the movies, and when he opens the door, the draft from this door again blows the yellow sheet out the window.  This time, however, Tom laughs as he understands the insignificance of the yellow sheet compared to his life and his love for his wife.

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