illustration of an open-faced monkey's paw with a skull design on the palm

The Monkey's Paw

by W. W. Jacobs
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How do you explain the three wishes in the short story Tthe Monkey's Paw"?

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W. W. Jacobs' short story, "The Monkey's Paw," revolves around the three wishes granted the owner of the shriveled paw. After gaining possession of the paw from an old friend who warned them about its evil, magical powers, the White family decided to test the paw's possibilities. The first wish is made by Mr. White "for two hundred pounds." The next day, the wish comes true when the family receives 200 pounds compensation--for the gruesome death of their son, Herbert. Mr. White makes a second wish, " 'to make my son alive again.' " The reader never knows for sure about the final wish, but when the Whites hear a sudden knock at the door, they believe it to be the mangled Herbert returning from the dead. The third wish is never uttered, but we can only assume that the final wish is for Herbert to return to the grave, for when Mr. White opens the door, no one is there.

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