How does the life of Mr. and Mrs. White change because they meddled with fate? 

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Wish for something sensible," forewarned Sergeant Major Morris when he presented the talisman in W. W. Jacobs's short story "The Monkey's Paw." But the next owners of the paw, the Whites, made a series of wishes that tempted fate and changed their lives forever. Living a comfortable, happy life with their son, Herbert, before the arrival of the paw, each wish created a subsequently more terrible change. They became slightly wealthier with the inheritance of the 200 pounds, but at the cost of the death of their son. Grief and remorse followed them afterward. When Mrs. White attempted to reverse the first wish, the second wish proved an even worse choice. Apprehension and terror overwhelmed them as they considered the possibilities of Herbert's return. The final wish overturned the gruesome idea of the previous wish, but their world would remain a lonely one, with the repercussions of the paw haunting them forever.

mrcstj55 | Student

It ends saying they are sadder but wiser. Ignorance is bliss and that was the life of the Whites prior to the introduction of the Monkey's Paw. If they had never heard of the Monkey's Paw they simple would have finished out an existence where the harshest lesson would have been Mr. White staying away from risky moves in chess.

On a literal level it appears that they have lost the friendship of Sergeant Major Morris because they did not heed his advice plus Mr. White forced him to take money for the Monkey's Paw. Friends just don't do that.

They also are now without their one and only son. Whether it was coincidence or attributed to a capricious wish by Mr. White, the Whites will forever carry the burden of guilt for the possible connection to the gruesome death of Herbert.

He was their pride and joy and portrayed as the life and laughter of the home. They may have changed and become wiser at the end of the play, that is up for debate, but there is no question that they never will be as happy.

Read the study guide:
The Monkey's Paw

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