In "The Monkey's Paw" how does Herbert's attitude toward the paw shift after his experience with the fire?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Herbert sees images in the fire that change his mind about the paw.

One stormy night the White family is playing chess in their isolated house when a stranger shows up.  He is actually Sergeant-Major Morris, who has been away for twenty-one years but knew Mr. White once.  He has been in India, where he found some strange stories and even stranger trinkets.  One is a monkey’s paw that supposedly has magical powers.  He tells the Whites to destroy it.  They can get three wishes from it, but they may not want to.

"Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud,' said the sergeant-major, "but I warn you of the consequences."

Herbert does not believe the story of the monkey’s paw at first.  He tries to dissuade his parents from using it.  They are interested though.

"If the tale about the monkey's paw is not more truthful than those he has been telling us," said Herbert, as the door closed behind their guest, just in time for him to catch the last train, "we sha'nt make much out of it."

When they rescue the paw from the fire and his father is wishing on it, Herbert just makes jokes.  He suggests that his father should wish to be an emperor, for example, telling him, “then you can't be henpecked.”

After everyone goes up to bed though, he starts to stare into the fire and is disturbed to see what seem to be the faces of monkeys in it. 

He sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it. The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement. … His hand grasped the monkey's paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his coat and went up to bed.

After throwing water on the fire, he retrieves the monkey’s paw and then goes up to bed.  Apparently, he had second thoughts about whether it might be real or not.  It is a little too spooky outside with the storm and the mysterious stranger.  He is starting to wonder if the paw is indeed real.

It is ironic that Herbert is the one who sees the images, because he is the one suffers the most from the paw.  He was suspicious of it from the beginning, and he should have been.  The paw is dangerous.  It causes his death.  It is not that the paw is fake.  It isn't.  It is evil.