Homework Help

In "The Monkey's Paw," Sergeant Major Morris speaks of a man who made two wishes that...

user profile pic

enoterloveletter | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted November 5, 2011 at 2:46 AM via web

dislike 0 like
In "The Monkey's Paw," Sergeant Major Morris speaks of a man who made two wishes that we don't know. But his last wish was for death. What do you think were the two wishes?

In "The Monkey's Paw," Sergeant Major Morris speaks of a man who made two wishes that we don't know. But his last wish was for death. What do you think were the two wishes?

4 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

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

Posted November 6, 2011 at 7:21 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

This is something that author W. W. Jacobs chose not to reveal in his short story, "The Monkey's Paw." Not knowing what the wishes are make them far more mysterious to both the Whites and to the reader. We know that the results must have been terrible in order for the man to wish for death with his third wish. It could have been something as simple as wishing to be rich (and having a chest full of gold fall on his head); or for 200 pounds, as the Whites did. Undoubtedly, the wish was granted--but with unusual results, and at a terrible price.

user profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 27, 2011 at 12:32 PM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

I agree with # 2 that the decision not to reveal the two wishes adds to the mystery and ominousness of the story. By not revealing the first two wishes, but by revealing that the third wish was for death, the author encourages readers to use their own imaginations and probably assume something awful. In this way, he helps foreshadow the dark outcome of the story.

user profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 9, 2012 at 10:47 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

I think we can guess that the first man's first wish was for money. That's what most of  us would wish for, isn't it? Most people would be a lot less modest than Mr. and Mrs. White: they would wish for a lot of money--millions of dollars, or pounds. The first man probably got the money but at some terrible cost and tried to use his second wish to undo the damage his first wish had caused. Then when the second wish--whatever it was--only made matters worse, he could only think of wishing for death. Perhaps the first wish got him the money but made him a criminal, even a murderer, and he ended up in prison or sentenced to be hanged. Then he might have wished to be out of prison and safe from recapture and found himself marooned on an island. The newspapers are full of stories about people who wanted something that turned out to be a curse when they got it. Offhand I can't think of a lot of novels or stories that deal with this theme, but F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby might be an example. I highly recommend the short story "The Great Good Place" by Henry James. It is about a man who has succeeded in becoming an internationally famous writer and discovers that he has lost his soul.

user profile pic

subhaditya18 | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 28, 2013 at 4:07 PM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

The author wants the reader to use his/her powers of imagination.Hence he did not revealing the first two wishes. The fakir who put the spell was an Indian,so maybe the first owner was an Indian.As Mr.White's first wish was for 200 pounds, we may also think that the first person's first wish was for gold or money.Taking the case of Mr.White, he met with a tragedy while he wished for 200 pounds i.e. the death of his only son,Herbert.Such may had been the fate of the first wisher.Then, maybe like Mr.White the first wisher thought of his tragedy as a coincidence.He became a puppet of greed.And his second wish maybe was for something bigger like being the King or the boss of his company or a great scientist  like Galileo.Suppose his wish came true.Then he  came under the depth of tragedy.Maybe his whole family died,maybe people mocked him as an outcaste or criminal or monster and so on.Repenting for his mistake,he could not bear his tragedies and asked for a place in heaven.That was his final wish.Since he asked the monkey's paw for death,maybe fate undid his second wish and so we don't remember him as a person.Sgt.Major Morris must have heard the rumours of the monkey's paw and also wanted to try his luck.All the three owners were blind in greed.  

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes