The Third Level

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The Third Level © 1950 by Jack Finney
Summary and Analysis
Charley, a young New York commuter wandering Grand Central station, accidently finds a portal that leads to 1894. Seizing the opportunity, Charley attempts to escape the rat race by buying a one-way ticket to his childhood town of Galesburg. Not having proper currency for the period, he is forced to postpone his plans to escape to the past.
Both Charley's wife and psychiatrist are worried he's losing his grip on reality. Unable to rediscover the mysterious 3rd Level of Grand Central, Charley searches for proof of his experience. His proof eventually comes from a very unexpected source.
This short story is one of the best examples of a concise, entertaining story about time travel
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During his lunch break the next day, Charley withdraws nearly all their savings and buys old-style currency. But he can never again find the entrance to the third level at Grand Central Station.
Charley finds evidence the third level actually exists when he discovers a letter to him, dated July 18, 1894, from Galesburg, IL. It seems Charley's psychiatrist was not as incredulous of the third level as he appeared.

The story third level clearly explores the science fiction genre of ‘time travel’; Jack Finney, the recipient of the world fantasy award interweaves fantasy with the reality in the most futuristic projection of time travel. Charley wishes to be transported to the third level, the world of 1894 which is supposedly much happier and quieter place to be. It is one of the most concise and entertaining story about time travel. The question whether the third level exist in real or only in charley’s mind can be inferred from Sam’s letter.
The story also dwells on the theme of escapism, not only as a psychological refuge from the grim realities of the present day world but also as a desire to stay with the past or to keep the past alive in the complexities of the present. In the story charley not only expresses desire to escape but also prepares and tries very hard, a desire which is not contested
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