man's feet dangling above a window outside a building

Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

by Jack Finney
Start Free Trial

How does "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket" end?

"Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket" ends with Tom Benecke losing the very piece of paper he risked his life to retrieve. When the yellow paper flies out the window a second time, Tom laughs and closes the door to his apartment, leaving to find his wife.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket" ends with the protagonist, Tom Benecke, crashing through his eleventh-story apartment window from the thin ledge outside, some one hundred feet or more above the street level. He has managed to rescue his yellow sheet of paper, full of important data, from the building ledge outside his apartment, at grave risk to his life. Once Tom gets back into his living room, he smooths the sheet out and lays it on his desk, setting a pencil on top of it in order to weigh it down. He then dons his coat and hat, intending to join his wife at the movie theater for fun, something he had declined to do earlier because he felt he needed to work.

When Tom opens the front door to leave, the wind tunnel created by the open door and open window lifts the paper off the desk and sucks it out the broken window. Instead of being upset about having lost the piece of paper he’d just risked his life for and nearly died to retrieve, Tom simply begins to laugh and proceeds to leave his apartment rather than attempt to reach the paper again. This seems to indicate a shift in Tom’s priorities: he now understands that a life spent only working is a wasted one.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on