man's feet dangling above a window outside a building

Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

by Jack Finney

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Is Clare a flat character in "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket"?

Quick answer:

Clare can be considered to be a flat character. She is two-dimensional and easy to sum up quickly, as opposed to Tom, her husband, who is a more complex character. Clare does not need to be complicated, because the purpose of her character is to drive Tom's desire to change.

Expert Answers

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Clare Benecke is a flat character in "Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket." A flat character is one who can easily be summed up in one or two sentences, and this describes Clare. Clare does not need to be a fleshed out, well-developed, three-dimensional character, because she is really only used as a device to show how much Tom, her husband, changes as a result of his experiences in the story.

At the beginning of the text, Clare is going to the movies, wishing her husband would go with her, but he has told her that he has to work. She is young and pretty, and Tom clearly adores her, but he chooses to work rather than go to the movies with his wife, showing where his priorities lie. Later, when he has to smash his fist through the window in order to save his own life and get back into his apartment from the ledge outside, it is Clare's name that Tom screams in order to muster the power to do so. Rather than lie down on the rug and revel in the luxury of security, as he thought he would when he was outside on the ledge, Tom's first instinct is to put on his coat and go meet Clare at the movies.

Clare remains a sort of steady point by which we can measure how much Tom has changed; she is flat (uncomplicated) and static (unchanging), while her husband is round (more complex) and dynamic (changing).

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