What does the reader learn about Tom's wife in "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Jack Finney's story "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket," the reader learns that the wife of protagonist, Tom Benecke, is affectionate, pleasant, considerate and concerned, well-loved and important to her husband, but neglected by him. 

As the narrative begins, Tom sits at his small desk in the living room in order to begin the completion of his sales project; he types on a sheet of paper designated as "Interoffice Memo." After spending three week-ends on this project, Tom wants to give it to his boss, who, hopefully, will read it over the coming weekend before the others submit their projects on Monday. Feeling rather warm and uncomfortable, Tom goes to the window and yanks it open. Afterwards, he calls to his wife, "Clare?" and when she answers, he asks, "Sure you don't mind going alone?" She answers "No." Then, she hurries from the bedroom in her slip, and while fastening an earring,

...her prettiness emphasized by the pleasant nature that she showed in her face. "It's just that I hate you to miss this movie; you wanted to see it, too."

When Tom says that he must "get this done though," she nods in acceptance; however, she does add, "You work too much, though...and too hard." Tom counters by telling her that she will not mind that he has worked so much when "the money comes rolling in" as he earns a promotion. Clare smiles and answers, "I guess not," but she turns back toward the bedroom to finish dressing and soon departs.

Later, her absence becomes a crucial factor in Tom's life after he goes out onto the eleventh floor ledge to retrieve his yellow information sheet that has blown out the opened window with a draft. It is in these moments of crisis that Tom realizes just how much Clare means to him and how insignificant his yellow sheet of paper is in comparison. Further, as he makes his bold attempt to break the window that has slammed shut, Tom shouts "Clare!" reaffirming his love for his wife. For, he has realized the absurdity of having based his life upon his materialistic goal. After successfully gaining entry into the safety of the apartment, Tom hurries to catch his dear wife at the movies and spend the rest of the evening with her.