Do you think the events of the story prove that fakir's point that "Fate ruled people's lives, and those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow."

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I have read "The Monkey's Paw" several times over the years and have never been able to understand what the old Indian meant by saying "Fate ruled people's lives, and those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow" or why he would have gone to so much trouble to prove whatever he was trying to prove. Does the quoted statement mean that everything is foreordained and that people cannot change what is destined to happen to them? Is everything that is ever going to happen to us already written down in some big book, so to speak? If so, then it was foreordained that the Whites would get possession of the monkey's paw and would wish for the two hundred pounds, with the consequences that followed. I don't happen to think that the old fakir's injunction makes much sense. I believe it was just a way of getting into the story and making it plausible that this old English couple would get three magical wishes. It is a very good story but just another variation on the theme of three wishes. If Mr. and Mrs. White suffered such a horrible punishment only for wishing for two hundred pounds, the punishment seems to be far more than they deserved. In fact, it is hard to see why they deserved to be punished at all. Anybody who got possession of such a supposedly magic charm would probably wish for something, whether they believed in it or not.

 

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

The Whites certainly do appear to be soundly punished for wishing upon the money's paw; they get the two hundred pounds they wish for but at the same time they lose their son. Whether anything actually supernatural occurs in the course of the story is cleverly left open to question; Herbert's fatal accident the very day after his father made the first wish may be a coincidence (albeit a staggeringly monstrous one); and we do not actually see him return from the grave when the old couple wish for him to do so. But certainly there is a strong sense of things being badly amiss after the first wish is made; we see the old having to bury the young, which is never in the natural order of things.

Whether or not we believe literally in the curse of the monkey's paw and the unrelenting power of fate, the story at the very least suggests that the Whites bring sorrow down upon themselves for wishing for more money, a thing they didn't really need, instead of remaining content with their lot.

 

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