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How did the relationship between the characters create their motivations in "The...

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alejandrajimenez | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:53 AM via web

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How did the relationship between the characters create their motivations in "The Monkey's Paw"?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:55 PM (Answer #1)

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CHARACTER MOTIVATION IN "THE MONKEY'S PAW"

  • SERGEANT-MAJOR MORRIS.  Morris apparently loves being the center of attention and to tell stories about his travels in the service. He also likes to drink, and he must have been lonely to come to such an out-of-the-way place on such a bad night. He must have brought the terrible paw in order to entertain his friends with another strange tale.
  • MR. WHITE.  The father likes to take the occasional gamble, as he shows during his chess match with Herbert. Retired, simple and otherwise conservative, he allows himself to be manipulated by the others in regards to the paw. First he saves it from the fire, and then he pays Morris for it. Then, when he can think of nothing greater than paying off his mortgage, his first wish is for a mere 200 pounds. He does not have the courage to destroy the paw after the first wish, and he only compounds the terror by completing the wish cycle of the paw.
  • HERBERT.  Young and impetuous, Herbert jokes about the paw and its powers, but its impact on Herbert is no laughing matter. The joy of the Whites' life, Herbert is taken from them with the first wish of the paw.
  • MRS. WHITE.  A simple, aging housewife, she dotes on her single son, who still lives at home, and her grief at his death prompts her to suggest the chilling second wish. Like the second wish itself, Mrs. White doesn't think things through, and she clearly has no idea what terrors can come with the paw.

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