Some questions and answers "Contents of Dead Man's Pocket"
1. (a) Recall: What document is Tom working on at the start of the story? (b) Analyze Cause and Effect: What long-term goals does he hope to achieve by this work? (c) Draw Conclusions: What does his plan tell you about his character?
Ans : (a) Tom is working on a proposal for a new grocery-store display method. (b) He hopes it will advance his career. (c) Tom is ambitious and cares deeply about his work.
2. (a) Recall: Why does Tom go out on the ledge? (b) Connect: Is his decision surprising given his character? Explain.
Ans: (a) Tom goes out on the ledge to retrieve a sheet of statistics. (b) No, Tom seems to be completely consumed with ambition.
3. (a) Compare and Contrast: Contrast Tom’s attitude toward life at the beginning of the story with his attitude at the end. (b) Infer: What causes his attitude to change? (c) Speculate: What changes, if any, will Tom make as a result of this experience?
Ans: (a) At the beginning, Tom is interested only in his work; at the end, he realizes that his relationship with his wife is more important. (b) His close encounter with death makes him realize what is important to him. (c) He will probably spend more time enjoying life with his wife.
4. (a) Evaluate: Do you think that a movie based on Finney’s story would be as effective as the story itself? Why or why not? (b) Discuss: Share and discuss responses with a partner. Then, discuss whether your partner’s response has changed or expanded your own thinking.
Ans : a movie version would be difficult because so much “action” takes place in Tom’s mind. (b) and (c) There is only one main character and little dialogue.
5. (a) What is the main external conflict in this story? Explain.(b) What is the main internal conflict in the story? Explain.
Ans : (a) The main external conflict is Tom’s struggle to escape the ledge. (b) The main internal conflict is between Tom’s ambition and his love for his wife.
6-(a) How are Tom’s conflicts resolved? (b) Describe an alternative resolution the story might have had.
Ans : (a) Tom’s external conflict is resolved when he breaks the window. His internal conflict is resolved when he lets the yellow sheet float back out the window.(b) Possible response: The yellow sheet stays in the room, Tom gets a promotion, but his wife gets tired of being alone and leaves him. …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Critical Review of Contents of Dead Man's Pocket
In this review the short story Contents of the Dead Man's Pocket by Jack Finney is critically assessed.
I liked the story as the author uses a very ordinary person, placed in an extraordinary setting, to build up a very believable high suspense short story. One keeps on expecting Tom to fall to his death, eleven stories down, while trying to recover his research paper thus creating a lot of empathy for him and his position. The suspense is enhanced by the title of the story. I liked the character, Tom Benecke, as he is a hard working person that put his future success ahead of short term pleasures. In fact, he is even prepared to risk his life to pursue his dream of being the "Boy Wizard of Wholesale Groceries." As the story unfolds it is clear that Tom is ambitious, self-centered, and impatient.
These three traits change significantly throughout the story. Towards the end of the story Tom realizes that his priorities are unbalanced once faced with the reality of death. He realizes how important his wife is to him. This forces him to be strong and stay alive, for her sake. The only reason he made it back into the apartment was because of how much he cared for her. In the end he concluded that he needs to spend more time with his wife . This is when the author allows the old Tom to die on the ledge and a new Tom is born. The new Tom is prepared to change and grow over time, given the dramatic experience he had in retrieving the yellow piece...
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