In "The Monkey's Paw," what is the monkey's paw symbolic of? Provide an example to prove this.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The monkey's paw is symbolic of India, for one thing. It provides evidence for Sergeant-Major Morris's story, since there are no monkeys in England. The paw also symbolizes death because it is old and mummified. It also represents the creature itself, so it gives credence to the illusion that it moves when White makes his wishes. It is as if a demonic spirit that once lived in a monkey is still attached to the shrunken paw. Monkeys swarm around ancient abandoned Indian temples, which gives the paw an association with Hindu mysticism and the kind of holy men who might possess magical powers. At least that sort of thing was more commonly believed by Europeans when the story was published around the year 1906. The monkey's paw symbolizes strange Eastern supernatural beliefs.


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