How do you identify Tom?    Jack Finney's "Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets"

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps the question relates to what type character Tom Benecke is in Jack Finney's "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket," a story in which the author examines the relation of personal success to the business world of the 1950s, post World War II.

Tom, a young advertising man, is so consumed with moving up the corporate ladder that he neglects his personal relationship with his wife, Clare. Having spent weekends on his new project which will bring him a big raise, Tom sends his wife on to the movies alone, promising to meet her later in the evening, explaining that he must finish before Monday.  When the sheet of all the data from countless hours of work blows out the window of his high-rise apartment, Tom recklessly risks his life by walking out onto the ledge of the building in order to regain it.  It is only after he slips and nearly falls, that Tom experiences an epiphany in which he realizes that his priorities have been skewered by his tremendous drive for business success.  As he desperately breaks through the window that has fatefully closed upon him, Tom screams his love, "Clare." 

Once he is safely inside, Tom puts the paper down on his desk with only a pencil atop it; he pulls his coat from the closet and opens the door to leave and catch up with his beloved wife.  As the draft enters the apartment, the yellow sheet finds its way out the hole in the window.  But, this time Tom laughs and departs.  These actions indicate that Tom Benecke is a dynamic, or round character who has readjusted his priorities in life.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm wondering if your teacher might have meant, "Do you identify with Tom?"

If that is the case, think through his experience on the ledge and then once he is safe. Think of examples in your life that you maybe search for attention, seek to have needs met, feel like no one is there, live through stress, or experience ultimate relief from that stress. These are all parts of the human condition that Tom experienced and I bet you experience too.

Then your why or why not might be to explain how your situation compares to his.

Read the study guide:
Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question