What happens to the yellow sheet of paper in the story "Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket"?    

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The yellow sheet, which represents hours and week-ends of research by Tom Benecke rises from Tom's desk and whisks out the window when his wife opens the door of their apartment. Throwing caution out the window to accompany the lost sheet, Tom decides to retrieve his plans for a new grocery display. 

 After the yellow sheet of paper whirls out the open window, it lands out on the building's edge, eleven stories in the air. Tom manages to retrieve it, and, after a harrowing experience of balancing himself while he thrusts his hand through the glass of the window which fell shut as he nearly fell and slid against it, he crashes through this window and rather distractedly lays the sheet down on his desk with only a pencil on top of it.
Having pondered the existential absurdity of what he has done, Tom decides to hurry to the cinema where he can sit with his wife; ironically when he opens the door to depart, the draft again lifts the sheet and it flies out the broken window.
This time Tom watches the yellow sheet sail through the air and out of his life. "Tom Benecke burst into laughter and then closed the door behind him."

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The yellow sheet of paper represents months of work that Tom Benecke has carried out researching a grocery-store display model. He has done a great deal of research and has scrawled facts, figures, and quotations on the yellow paper that he thinks will set him apart from the other employees at his company. The wind scoops up the yellow sheet of paper and sucks it out of the window. He hears the paper skipping along the ledge outside his building, and then it becomes plastered to the wall of the building. The paper remains caught between the corner ornament and the ledge of the building. He retrieves the paper from the ledge and then realizes that he almost lost his life in pursuit of a piece of paper. He recognizes how insignificant that paper really is compared to the things that matter, and he understands that he has been wasting valuable time when he could have been with his wife. He has placed too much value on the wrong things. As he is preparing to leave his apartment to join his wife, the paper is again scooped up by the wind and sails out through the window, which has no glass because Tom has smashed it, and is lost forever. 

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Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

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