After reading the excerpt indicated below, what is a prediction of what Tom will do in "Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket"?BEGIN: By a kind of trick--by concentrating his entire mind on first his...

After reading the excerpt indicated below, what is a prediction of what Tom will do in "Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket"?

BEGIN: By a kind of trick--by concentrating his entire mind on first his left foot, then his left hand, then the other foot, then the other hand--he was able to move, almost imperceptibly, trembling steadily, very nearly without thought. But he could feel the terrible strength of the pent-up horror on just the other side of the flimsy barrier he had erected in his mind; and he knew that if it broke through he would lose this thin artificial control of his body.


His right foot smashed into his left anklebone; he staggered sideways, began falling, and the claw of his hand cracked against glass and wood, slid down it, and his finger tips were pressed hard on the puttyless edging of his window. His right hand smacked gropingly beside it as he fell to his knees; and, under the full weight and direct downward pull of his sagging body, the open window dropped shudderingly in its frame till it closed and his wrists struck the sill and were jarred off.

For a single moment he knelt, knee bones against stone on the very edge of the ledge, body swaying and touching nowhere else, fighting for balance. Then he lost it, his shoulders plunging backward, and he flung his arms forward, his hands smashing against the window casing on either side; and--his body moving backward--his fingers clutched the narrow wood stripping of the upper pane.: END

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since you are at a complication in the story with the resolution very far away still, you can predict that he must keep going. If he falls, the story is over, so you can predict that he won't fall. Since his tools and resources are very limited (his hands, feet, and mind are his only tools; the ledge, walls and window casing are his only resources), you can predict that he will do more of what he has been doing only in different ways to reach different end results: he was traveling across the ledge; now he is at his destination with a new objective.

Since he is at the window and in a very dangerous physical situation, you can predict he must get his body through that window. Since the window fell closed, "shuttering in its frame," you can predict the same struggle he undertook with fingertips and shuffling steps will repeat itself while he tries to inch-by-inch open the stiff window:

as usual the window didn't budge, and he had to lower his hands and then shoot them hard upward to jolt the window open a few inches.

At this point, you cannot predict his success unless you draw upon the kindly though ironical tone of the distant, observing narrator ("looked as though he had played ... basketball") to predict that he will somehow succeed or unless you have noted foreshadowing that Tom's end will be survival, perhaps foreshadowing in the presentation of the Self against Self conflict and the theme requiring self-realization:

She nodded, accepting this. Then, glancing at the desk across the living room, she said, "You work too much, though, Tom--and too hard."

He smiled. "You won't mind though, will you, when the money comes rolling in and I'm known as the Boy Wizard of Wholesale Groceries?"

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Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

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