man's feet dangling above a window outside a building

Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

by Jack Finney

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How has perseverance affected Tom in "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket"?

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Tom Benecke's character trait of perseverance directs his persistence in completing his project for grocery stores, as well as later on affecting his determination to catch up to his wife at the theater. 

When Tom's wife leaves to go to the movies alone because Tom insists on staying home in order to finish his project, her departure through the front door creates a draft, and the yellow sheet on which he has recorded data gleaned from long weekends of work is drawn outside, landing on the ledge not far from the window. Tom casts a long look at the piece of paper, realizing no broom or other object will reach the yellow paper.

It was hard for him to understand that he actually had to abandon it—it was ridiculous—and he began to curse. Of all the papers on his desk, why did it have to be this one in particular!

Tom just cannot give up on the yellow sheet; therefore, he goes out onto the ledge in order to retrieve this valuable sheet of paper, risking his life in the process of taking this paper back into his apartment.

Once he has been able to break the window and get back into the apartment, Tom lays the sheet on the desk and gets his coat, opening the front door in order to search for Claire, his wife, at the theater. As he opens the door, Tom sees the yellow paper "scooped off the desk and, unimpeded by the glassless window, sail out into the night and out of his life."

Now, Tom is determined to spend time with his wife Claire, having realized that his obsession with getting ahead at work nearly cost him his life. Tom now knows that his love for Claire is much more important.

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