Author W. W. Jacobs gives the reader plenty of forewarning about the events to come in "The Monkey's Paw." From the opening paragraphs, the reader is given clues that something ominous will soon happen. From the dark and gloomy night on which the visit from the sergeant-major takes place, to the "sharp and unnecessary perils" and the "fatal mistake" made during the chess game, we know that this is no normal evening. Sergeant-Major Morris reveals that the paw is dangerous, and that he has had his three wishes come true: They are too terrible for him to even discuss. He reveals that the first owner wished for death for his third wish, yet the Whites still desire ownership of the paw. Herbert sits by the fireplace, visualizing faces in the fire
... so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement.
When the "mysterious man" appears the next day, we know something awful has happened. The first wish, for 200 pounds, comes true in the form of compensation for Herbert's death. The other wishes can be guessed at, what with the grieving mother desiring that her son still be at her side. Even the final wish is not a total surprise, since the reader is already given clues to the awful return of the son that the second wish brings.