What complicates the opening situation?"Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets" by Jack Finney

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The complication of the exposition of Jack Finney's "Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets," the point in the story in which conflicts develop and suspense is built, involves the desires of the main character, Tom Benecke.  On the one hand, he loves his wife and wants to spend the evening with her by going to the movies.  On the other hand, his drive to be a successful businessman pulls at him.  For, he wishes to receive a promotion; and, to do so, he feels that he must finish his research will will improve the grocery business that he is in.  When his wife tells him that she hates to have him miss the movie he has wanted to see, Tom replies,

"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 Wizrd of Wholesale Groceries?"

The suspense of this complication is built as the warm air from the hallway channels through where Tom has opened the door for his wife to depart.  This sudden force causes the air of the open window to surge, fluttering the curtains and thrusting a yellow sheet of paper to waft into the air, drop on the ledge, and be propelled out of sight.  It is this yellow sheet of paper which contains all the research work which will earn Tom a raise:

He knelt at the window and stared at the yellow paper for a full minute or more, waiting for it to move, to slide off the ledge and fall, hoping he could follow its course to the street, and then hurry down in the elevator and retrieve it.  But it didn't move....There was nothing in the aprtment long enough to reach that paper. 

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Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

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