What do you think Jack Finney is trying to convey about his own values?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his story, "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket," Jack Finney poses the situation of a man so driven by materialism that he loses sight of what is to him really valuable in life: family and love. 

Tom Benecke is obsessed with submitting his proposal for a new grocery store display for the Spring before others turn in theirs; therefore, he works on his ideas at night and on the weekends. When he declines joining his wife at the movies, he excuses himself by smiling at her and saying,

"You won't mind though, will you, when the money comes rolling in and I'm known as the Boy Wizard of Wholesale Groceries?"

After his wife leaves, the draft of the door causes his yellow worksheet to blow out the open window of their eleventh floor apartment. Foolishly, Tom determines that he must retrieve the sheet even though it is outside hundreds of feet above the street. And, it is not until he goes out there that Tom becomes rational and realizes that he has risked his life for his desire to make more money. Then, after the window slams shut and he cannot climb back into the apartment, Tom reassesses his values. He has let his desire for material gain to blind him to the true values of love and family.

After he finally breaks the glass and is able to tumble into his apartment, Tom quickly grabs his topcoat and hat and "without waiting to put them on, opened the front door and stepped out, to go find his wife."

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

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