In “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs, the overall plot of the story is unexpected and really adds to the bizarreness. The physical objects, being THE monkey paw, are focused on intently and are the cause of most emotion in the story. Without the paw, the son wouldn’t have died and the father would not have been put in the situation to kill his “son” again, really hurting his wife.
So a summary of this story is quite simple with the straightforward plot and simplistic characters with normal human desires.
It`s 1901 and the war between Britain and India just finished, so a English soldier that fought in India comes to the Whites house, an English family of three. This soldier was a friend of Mr. White and tells the family about his travels abroad. Mr. White brings up something about some “monkey paw”. Major Morris does not want to talk about the paw, but the whole family makes him show it to them. He tells them about how it had a curse placed on it that three men could have three wishes and how he already used his wishes. He throws the paw into the fire, but Mr. White quickly retrieves it and keeps it. Major Morris advises against it, but they keep it anyways. The family and Major Morris have dinner and he tells them to wish carefully. The family jokes about how they wish they had more money, and Mr. White wishes for €200. The family goes to sleep, but the son can sense something wrong. The next day, everything is normal and no money has showed up, so they disqualify the money`s “magic”. The son goes to work and around noon, the parents get a visit from an adviser of their son’s factory. The man tells them how “he got caught in the machine”, and how it was not the companies fault, so they get a small payment in sympathy. The payment was of €200 and the father faints. A week had passed since the wake of their son and the Whites did not speak to each other and were very depressed over his death. One night, Mr. White wakes to find his wife crying hysterically and tries to get her back to bed. She wakes up again in a panic looking for the monkey paw hoping to wish her son back to life. She makes her husband go back downstairs and wish on the paw for their son`s revival. He does it for her and they go back to bed. A knocking awakes Mr. White and he grabs matches to go downstairs and finds a creepy knocking on their front door, and Mrs. Whites wakes up. She says that it`s Herbert and rushes downstairs to meet her son. She cannot reach the chain and bolt on the door and begs Mr. White to help her, but he refuses. He tries to find the monkey paw for the last wish in fear of what`s on the other side of the door. He wishes for his “son” to be dead “again” and his wife opens the door to find nothing. He comforts her and they go back to bed.
The plot of the story is so simple to where it makes you wonder if that’s all that really happened and why the author didn’t add more “interesting” details that would make this story more lavish.
Some things that I would love to be able to incorporate into my writing would have to be the “getting to the point” technique. This author does not go into such detail with some things and I find that very useful in some situations. Getting to the point on events in a story, especially elaborate ones, can be hard, but Jacobs does it very well.
chronic: the fatal consequences of the paw
acute: the death of Herbert
- Why didn’t Major Morris warn the family of these fatal consequences?
- The ending was a little unclear, so do you think that Mr. White killed his son again?