What is a summary of "Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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"Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket" is a story written by Jack Finney. The short story first appeared in two different magazines in 1956, Good Housekeeping and Collier's.

The story tells of a man (Tom Benecke) who is preparing a memo for a display method, he has created, for a grocery store. His work, readers come to find, is far more important than going to the movies with his wife, Clare. She leaves for the movies alone.

As Tom is working, a wind picks up his work and it flies out of the window. Knowing that this piece of paper is essential for a promotion, Tom decides that he must do whatever it takes to retrieve it. Tom goes out onto the ledge.

Soon after going out onto the ledge, Tom is able to get the paper. Unfortunately, Tom begins to panic as he sees how far up he is. After trying many things to get help, and to get back into his home (yelling, throwing  a coin, setting a fire to pieces of paper), Tom is able to break the window (which has closed) to gain entry into his home.

Once in, Tom sets the data sheet down on the table and decides to go meet his wife at the movies. Unfortunately, a gust of wind, again, picks up the paper and sends it out of the window again. Undeterred, Tom exits the apartment to meet his wife.

The title of the story comes from the fact that Tom will only be able to be identified by the few things in his pockets (if he is to fall from the ledge and die). In his pocket he carries only the sheet of data needed for his, hoped for, promotion.


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