The Third Level Summary Class 12 English by Jack Finney

“The Third Level” is a captivating short story penned by Jack Finney, first published in 1950. The subject matter concerns the concept of time travel and the extent of the human imagination’s capabilities. This article aims to provide a summary of the story and analyze its themes.

Plot Summary:

The Third Level Summary – The story revolves around Charley, a regular visitor to the New York Public Library. One day, while exploring the library, he discovers a staircase leading to a previously unseen third level. While wandering around the third level, Charley meets Sam, who claims to have time-traveled back to the year 1894. Initially skeptical, Charley is eventually convinced when Sam shows him a letter he had written to his wife in 1894. Sam reveals that he uses the power of his imagination to travel through time, but can only travel to the past and not the future. Charley is fascinated by Sam’s story and starts imagining himself traveling through time as well.

One day, Charley decides to leave his present life behind and accompanies Sam in 1894. They spend a day in the past, enjoying the simple life without the modern-day complications. However, as the day ends, Charley realizes he cannot stay in the past and must return to his present life.


The story explores several themes, including the power of imagination, the desire to escape reality, and the concept of time. The power of imagination is a prevalent theme as Sam claims that he can travel back in time through imagination. Charley, initially skeptical, starts believing in the power of imagination and uses it to time travel as well.

The desire to escape reality is another evident theme in the story as both Charley and Sam are unhappy with their current lives and find solace in time travel. They seek refuge in the simplicity of the past and the absence of the problems that plague their present lives.

The concept of time is also a crucial theme in the story, as Sam’s ability to time travel challenges the conventional notion of time. It raises questions about the nature of time and whether it’s possible to travel back in time.


“The Third Level” is a thought-provoking story that challenges our understanding of time and the power of imagination. It highlights the human desire to escape reality and the power of the mind to take us to different times and places. The story is a reminder that sometimes, a little imagination is all we need to transport ourselves to a different reality.

Also Read: Going Places Summary

The Third Level Summary Explanation Video

About the Author:

Walter Braden “Jack” Finney (born John Finney; October 2, 1911 – November 14, 1995) was an American writer. His best-known works are science fiction and thrillers, including The Body Snatchers and Time and Again. The former was the basis for the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers and its remakes.