Explain how the writer uses the introductory scene before the arrival of the sergeant-major to arouse our sympathy for the White family.  The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs

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lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Monkey's Paw," the setting is a stormy night. Also, the White family lives way out where the pathway is a wet, soggy area. The night out is bringing torrential rains:

"That's the worst of living so far out," bawled Mr. White, with sudden and unlooked-for violence; "of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live in, this is the worst. Pathway's a bog, and the road's a torrent. I don't know what people are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses in the road are let, they think it doesn't matter."

Immediately, the reader has sympathy for the White's living conditions. It is easy to have compassion for the Whites who live so far out until no one else cares about their existence. On this stormy night, the reader is sympathetic in that the Whites are experiencing unfair circumstances due to their setting.

Also, Mr. White is losing a chess game against his son. The reader is sympathetic for it seems to mean so much to the senior. He is able to arouse sympathy from the reader for his present situation.

Even Mrs. White tries to console her husband. She reminds him that he can win the next game:

"Never mind, dear," said his wife, soothingly; "perhaps you'll win the next one."

Unknowingly, the visitor is bringing bad luck on this stormy night. Even Mr. White doubts that he shall come on a night like tonight:

"I should hardly think that he'd come to-night," said his father, with his hand poised over the board.

Truly, the reader is sympathetic with the conditions in the introduction that the Whites are experiencing on this ghastly night.