man's feet dangling above a window outside a building

Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

by Jack Finney
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At the beginning of "Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket," what does Tom think is the most important thing in his life?

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At the beginning of the story, Tom thinks that his work is the most important thing in his life.

When his wife, Clare, asks him to accompany her to the cinema, he refuses. Tom explains that he has to finish up some work, and he tries to cheer his wife...

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At the beginning of the story, Tom thinks that his work is the most important thing in his life.

When his wife, Clare, asks him to accompany her to the cinema, he refuses. Tom explains that he has to finish up some work, and he tries to cheer his wife up with a comment about future prospects:

"It's just that I hate you to miss this movie; you wanted to see it too." "Yeah, I know...Got to get this done though...You won't mind though, will you, when the money comes rolling in and I'm known as the Boy Wizard of Wholesale Groceries?"

Tom believes that all his hard work will eventually pay off for him and Clare, and that's how he rationalizes his workaholic tendencies. In his opinion, he feels that he has to distinguish himself from the other young employees. By taking on independent projects that will benefit the company, Tom believes that the top executives will finally take notice of him. So, Tom stays home to put together a special report that (he is convinced) will revolutionize grocery-store display methods for his company.

However, it is not until he loses the yellow paper containing all the pertinent facts and figures of his study that he begins to reevaluate his priorities in life.

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