What key events from "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket" would you include in a one paragraph summary of this story?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket" by Jack Finney is certainly a story driven by action. Tom Benecke has spent many hours on a project that he tries to complete in the hope that he can submit it to his boss on Monday before anyone else turns in ideas. As a result, rather than going to the movies with his wife, he stays home to finish the work that promises him a promotion.

Here are the key incidents that occur when Tom stays home:

When his wife goes out the apartment door, the current of warm air from the hallway rushes in, lifting Tom's yellow worksheet and hurling it toward the open window. Momentarily, the sheet sticks to the window, but, as the blowing curtains swing back from the wall, the yellow sheet slides outside. Tom rushes to the window, but it is gone. He watches, hoping that the yellow paper will fall so he can see where it lands and then go pick it up. When the yellow paper does not move on the outside ledge, Tom curses as he thinks of the big opportunity for advancement in the company he will miss if he cannot retrieve this paper. Impetuously, then, Tom determines to step out onto the ledge after it, convincing himself that the brick has indentations where he can safely put his fingers. He gingerly steps out of his window onto the ledge of the eleventh floor. With fear gripping his stomach, Tom forces himself along, not looking down as he leans against the building. When he reaches the paper, terror seizes him, but he calms himself and finally grabs it and puts in between his teeth. Tom concentrates solely on inching his way back. When he reaches the apartment, his hand grabs at space where the open window is, and Tom falls slightly forward, desperately reaching for the edging of his window. The force of his movement causes the window to slam shut, and Tom nearly falls. Pulling the yellow sheet out of his mouth, Tom angrily shoves it into his pocket, thinking if he falls, people will find this meaningless piece of paper and wonder what he was doing. After he fails to break the glass of the window, Tom considers the fact that he may have to wait until his wife comes home.  On second thought, Tom knows that Claire will not return for hours and that such a long wait will weaken him, likely resulting in his fall. Tom acknowledges that he must break the glass and do so without losing his balance. He devises a plan to drive a blow from his shoulder with his full power. When he does so, the glass shatters, and Tom grabs the curtains. Quickly, he clutches the window frame and climbs into his home. Now, having realized what is truly important, he hurries to catch up with his wife. As he opens the apartment door, the draft again picks up the yellow sheet that Tom distractedly set upon the desk with only a pencil to hold it down. This time Tom laughs and departs.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Work-obsessed Tom Benecke chooses to work on a project rather than go out with his wife to the cinema. However, tragedy strikes when a vital piece of paper is blown out of the window and is left plastered against the ledge of the outside wall. Tom Benecke, determined not to lose all of his hard work and his hopes of promotion, steps out of his apartment window and walks along the ledge to try and regain it. Finally he succeeds, and manages to re-enter his apartment window with the piece of paper. Leaving it on his desk, he then decides to go and catch up with his wife after all, as his near-death experience has changed his priorities somewhat. As he leaves to go out, a gust of wind from the opening door blows the same bit of paper out of the window once again. This time, however, Tom Benecke merely laughs and carries on going out to look for his wife.