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 does Mr. White get the monkey’s paw?

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At the beginning of the story, Mr. White is visited by his friend, Sergeant-Major Morris, who has spent an extended period of time overseas in India and is the owner of the magic monkey's paw. After Sergeant-Major Morris elaborates on his exotic experiences overseas, Mr. White asks him about the monkey's paw, and Sergeant-Major Morris reluctantly discusses the ominous talisman. Morris explains that an old fakir placed a spell on the monkey's paw to show that fate ruled people's lives. He tells Mr. White that the first owner's third wish was for death. Sergeant-Major Morris then tosses the monkey's paw into the fire, and Mr. White retrieves it from the flames before it can burn. Before Morris leaves, he instructs Mr. White to wish for something sensible. Mr. White proceeds to wish upon the monkey's paw for two hundred pounds to pay off his mortgage.

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