In "The Monkey's Paw," why does Mr. White end up making his first wish?

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belarafon's profile pic

belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Mr. White does not fully believe the story of the monkey's paw, but since he is susceptible to suggestion, he allows himself to be drawn into the idea that the paw may hold supernatural powers. Despite this, he takes the paw from his friend Morris as a gesture of solidarity; he knows that Morris has been through a lot of tragedy, and he wishes to take some of that away. Morris, for his part, is well-aware of the paw's capabilities, and hopes that White will remain skeptical and not use it.

"I don't know what to wish for, and that's a fact," he said slowly. "It seems to me I've got all I want."

"If you only cleared the house, you'd be quite happy, wouldn't you?" said Herbert, with his hand on his shoulder. "Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that'll just do it."

His father, smiling shamefacedly at his own credulity, held up the talisman...
(Jacobs, "The Monkey's Paw,"

As seen in the prior excerpt, White is hesitant and only wishes because, in his mind, no harm can come of it. He cannot fully understand the consequences of "meddling with fate," as Morris puts it; instead, he thinks that the wish will either have no effect, or he will gain the money. Of course, his hopes are dashed, and he is forced to face the truth. His first wish stems entirely from his skepticism and his general wishes to keep his wife and son happy; they are cheerful to go along with the farce, and none of them believe that it can actually have a real effect.

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sunithasrivastava | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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Mr. White raises the paw and makes a wish because it was instructed by Mr. Morris.

"Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud,"said the sergeant major.

The paw was having a spell on it, and it had to be treated very seriously. When the wish is said, it had to be said very attentively by looking at it.

When Mr. White wished for the first time, he was a bit suspicious as to what to ask. He had everything what is needed for a human being. But the second time, he was forced to wish by his wife. He was not willing to do so. He was terrified. The last wish was intensional. He did it to avoid further damage to himself and his wife.





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