-The Third Level’ is a story that weaves together a psychological journey of the narrator into past, present and moves towards future.
-Charley- 31 year old, an American narrates his unusual experience of having been to the third level.
-He discovers brass spittoons, flickering gas lights, everyone dressed, like 1890’s with old fashioned beards, side burns, fancy moustaches, engine with funnel shaped stack, newspaper – The World, few ticket windows etc in the third level.
-Charley goes to get the ticket for Galesburg Illinois- Wonderful town, big houses, huge lawns, plenty of trees, people with lots of leisure time and surprises when the clerk says that it is not currency and he will be put behind the bars.
Wife worried -takes him to his Psychiatrist friend :
-He refuses to believe -says it a waking wish dream fulfillment as he could not face the modern world which is full of fear, insecurity, war, worry, stamp collection a refuge from reality.
Charley desperate to go to Galesburg & so exchanges new for old currency. But could never find the third level.
Sam’s disappearance has something to do with Galesburg as he was fond of the place

One day while going through his stamp collection, he finds an envelope, containing a letter of July 18, 1894 written by Sam, who is living at Galesburg, assertions the Third level.
Charley finds that Sam had bought old currency worth eight hundred
Sam was Charley’s psychiatrist.


  1. Was the Third level a medium of escape for Charley? Why/Why not?
    Yes, Charlie was engulfed in the trials and tribulations of life so he created the third level himself to seek refuge in it. It eased his tensions and pressures and provided him a platform to relax.
  1. Why is Grand Central compared to a tree?
    Grand Central was compared to a tree because it was pushing out new corridors and staircases like roots. There may be a tunnel under the city up to Times Square and another to Central Park. Nobody knows about them. For many people it has been a exit, a way of escape through the years. So it is possible that it may have the tunnel Charlie got into.
  1. How did Charlie realize that he had reached the third level?
    Charlie saw brass spittoons, flickering gas lights, everyone dressed like in the1890’s with mutton sleeves side burns and moustaches. The engine was with a funnel shaped stack. The newspaper was dated June 11 1894. There were fewer ticket windows. This made him realize that he was on the third level.
  2. Why did he wish to escape to Galesburg?

He wished to escape to Galesburg because it was a wonderful town with big houses, huge lawns, plenty of trees. The summer evenings were twice as long and people had lots of leisure time to sit out on the lawns. It was a peaceful world.

  1. What is First Day Cover?
    At the time when a new stamp is issued, stamp collectors buy some of them and use them in order to mail envelops to themselves and the postmark proves the date. The envelope is called the First Day Cover.
  2. What is referred to as ‘the obvious step’?
    The obvious step refers for consulting a psychiatrist. As a fact there are only two levels & it does not seem wise to visit non-existing third level. Therefore it was very apparent to consult an expert.


  1. Who was Charley? What was his problem?
  2. “That ain’t money, mister.” When did the ticket-clerk utter these words?
  3. Who was Sam? What was his observation about Charley’s present problem?
  4. How did Charley contradict the psychiatrist’s opinion?
  5. Who wrote the letter? Why do you think so?
  6. What had Sam written in his letter to Charley?
  7. Why couldn’t Sam go back to his old business in Galesburg?
  8. What is the issue discussed in the lesson?
  9. What does the ‘third level’ symbolize?
    10.Do you think that Charley is the representative of modern men on rat race? Why/Why not?
  10. Why could not Charley reach the third level again?

12.Why did Charley run back from the third level?

Do you think that the third level was a medium of escape for Charley? Elaborate.
Value Points:
-Harsh reality-too oppressive at times-Stress, strain, fierce competition, fear of failure causes insecurity-Charley declares -ordinary guy-but not able to cope with the modern world
-Wish to visit Galesburg of 1890 -old frame houses, huge lawns, beautiful trees -People sitting on lawns relaxed-calm and peaceful–Exchanging new currency for old currency, Roping in his wife and Sam into his third world, saying that Sam also bought old currency, the letter from Sam in his first day cover are all his figment of imagination.-It was a medium of escape – could not face the
challenges-modern world.

  1. Comment on the ending of the story.
  2. Do you think the title ‘The Third Level’ is appropriate?
  3. Bring out the contrast between the world Charlie lived in and the one that he stray into.
  4. What devices does Jack Finney use to portray Charley’s transition from reality to fantasy, seem probable and plausible?
  5. ‘The Third Level” is a true predicament of modern living, the pulls and pressures of life. How far is it true?