man's feet dangling above a window outside a building

Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket

by Jack Finney

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What city is the setting for “Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket”?

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“Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket” is set in New York City. This setting contributes to the conflict of the story, as Tom Benecke lives in an eleventh-story apartment, and so people cannot hear, or perhaps ignore, his cries for help.

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Jack Finney's story “Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket” takes place in New York City. Let's reflect on the contribution the setting makes to the story.

First, the tale's city setting allows for the primary conflict to take place. Tom Benecke lives in a high-rise apartment building, so when his yellow sheet of paper flies out the window, it is a big deal. If Tom lived in the country in a one- or two-story house, he could merely have hurried out the door and found the paper in the yard. But Tom lives several stories above the ground, and his precious paper gets stuck on a ledge high above the street. Tom has to go outside to get it, but he has to creep out on the ledge at great risk of falling to his death.

Second, Tom reflects when he gets trapped on that ledge that because he is in New York, no one will pay the slightest bit of attention to his cries for help. As he stands clinging to the building, he recalls how he habitually ignores “shouts in the night.” Such noise is commonplace, and people tune it out. Tom's calls just blend in with the New York clamor. He cannot count on help from his neighbors or from passersby. He will have to get himself out of his predicament.

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