The Lost Pocket Paper

957 words - 4 pages

Mullin PAGE 1
Webb MullinMrs. NugentEnglish IISeptember 18, 2012Contents of a Dead Man's PocketJack Finney starts off the story with Tom Benecke sitting at a desk in the living room of his eleventh floor apartment, typing a memo for work. His wife Clare is preparing to go to the movies alone. With difficulty, Tom opens a stubborn window, and a gust of wind blows his paper out of the window onto a ledge. We see how Finney casually introduces that his apartment is on the eleventh floor of the building, in the great city of New York. Before you even begin reading the story, you get an eerie feeling just from the title of the short story. Then when you begin to read the story, and he introduces the setting and the 11th floor apartment so nonchalantly, you begin to get a feeling of suspense.Finney continues on with Tom seeing Clare off, and him explaining he must work rather than go with her, in the hopes of bettering himself at work. While the door to the apartment is open for Clare to leave, a current of air from the hallway enters the apartment. It blows a sheet of paper out the window, landing it on a ledge below, out of his reach. The paper contains all the data Tom needs for his memo proposing a new grocery-store display method. ]He reasons it would be simple to retrieve the sheet of paper from the ledge, compared to all the work he has put into it. At this point in the story, things begin to pick up, building the sense of suspense. Now that we know he is going to go out onto the ledge, we begin to start thinking not if he is going to die, but when he is going to die. As the pace of the book picks up we see that Finney uses the apartment and time of night to indicate suspense. He uses the time of day, which is night, to create suspense. As we all know, most scary stories happen at night!Finney then continues on with Tom putting on a jacket, exiting the window of his apartment. Edging along, he reaches the corner where the paper lies. He looks down at the street below, and starts to panic. He is frozen with fear. He shouts but no one hears him. He thinks of the worst, but gains enough strength to inch back to his apartment. We are now at the top the suspense ladder. He uses the traffic in the bustling city, and ledge of the New York City apartment building to create a sense of suspense and eeriness in this part of the story. We now are getting a better and better picture of how Finney uses the setting, including time and place, to create suspense.As Finney begins to reach the tippy top of the suspense ladder, he once again continues on with Tom reaching for the apartment window, as stumbles, causing the window to fall closed. He almost falls, then catches the window frame, and pulls himself against it. He can't open the window. He tries to break the glass with a coin, signal apartments across the street by setting fire to papers he finds in his pockets, drop coins onto the street below, but all of his attempts fail. He realizes if he falls, he has no i.d. The only thing to be found on his person will be the contents of his pockets: the page of data. He regrets the time he has spent away from his wife, working. His life seems wasted. As a last effort, he decides to punch his way through the window. He is successful. Upon reentering his apartment, he immediately lays the retrieved paper on his desk. As he leaves to join his wife at the movies, he sees that same piece of paper fly out the window again. So as Finney reaches the climax, he uses his surroundings like different apartments and people below to create a sense of suspsense. He creates that suspense by using them as a something/someone that could possibly save Tom. Although, it turns out that Tom is given a second chance by the almighty supernatural power that is controlling the paper and actions in this story. Tom ends up saving himself, and learns a very valuable lesson from this terrifying, life changing event.So to recap everything in this Analysis, The suspense in "Contents of the Dead Man's Pockets" is created in multiple ways. First, the title itself, when referring to a dead man, sets the reader up to assume the death of the main character Tom Benecke. So, when we read that he is home alone at night when he sees his needed paper fly out the window above "the muffled street traffic far below," we feel we know what will eventually happen. It is this feeling of what we, the readers, believe to be certain that helps create the suspense within the story. Also, the writer uses repetitions, such as "right foot, left foot, right foot..." The way Finney spreads out the outstanding details of a very small period of time puts the reader "in the moment" feeling every scrape of the brick, every gust of wind, and the feeling of imminent danger of his fall. This anxiety is part of suspense.


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