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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are actually two major conflicts in Jack Finney's short story, "Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets." In the story, Tom Benecke is a hard-working professional who spends most of his spare time working on a new idea for marketing grocery store products. When his wife, Clare, closes a door, a piece of paper flies out the open window to the ledge below--eleven stories above Lexinton Avenue. The paper contains all of his notes for his valued project. Therein the conflict arises: Does Tom risk his life to retrieve his work? It is a case of man vs. the environment, braving the wind, cold and fear of height.

After Tom retrieves the paper, a second conflict emerges. Tom is frozen in fear after looking down below, and the return to his open window becomes a challenge of man vs. the inner man. Will he be able to overcome his own fears to safely return to his apartment? When he finally succeeds in reaching the window, he finds it is now closed, and he has no luck in breaking it or signaling for help. He eventually must choose between one, last, hardy fist-punching blow to the glass: He will either break it and save his life or the imbalance caused by the blow will tumble him to his death below.