Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket Questions and Answers
by Jack Finney

Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the climax of "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket" by Jack Finney?

Expert Answers info

beateach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write681 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

Jack Finney creates a suspenseful situation in his short story “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket.” The climax of a piece of literature is the highest point of the conflict or crisis and precedes the resolution and falling action.

In “Contents of the Dead Man’s Pocket,” Tom Benecke climbs out his apartment window onto the building’s ledge in order to retrieve a document that flew out the open window. The document contains the evidence of market research he hopes to use to advance his career; therefore, it is extremely important to him. Tom nervously makes his way along the narrow ledge of his apartment building, which is perched eleven stories above Lexington Avenue in New York City. After he successfully rescues the paper, he struggles to make his way back to the apartment window. Unfortunately, he accidentally slams the window shut, making it impossible for him to climb back into the apartment. This is the climax of the story. Tom has his prized paper, but he cannot access his apartment. He will either figure a way to get back in or die trying, as foreshadowed by the title of the story.

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 fingertips 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.

After this point, the crisis is resolved, the action falls, and the story comes to its conclusion.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial