In The Monkey's Paw," what effect does the setting have on the plot at the beginning of the story?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of the story has a dual effect of establishing that the Whites are a close family, they are cozy and content in their home. 

"Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnum villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly." (Jacobs) 

But, the Whites also seem a little bored by their simple life.  Outside the home, the location of the home relays a sense of isolation and remoteness.  Mr. White gets mad thinking that Sargeant Major Morris is unlikely to come for a visit because of the weather and because of the condition of the road. The Whites live in a rural area, they don't get many people walking outside in their neighborhood. They believe that they have been forgotten by the town or village in which they live.  They have been cut off from civilization and are alone.  It is a little spooky.

"That's the worst of living so far out," balled Mr. White with sudden and unlooked-for violence; "Of all the beastly, slushy, out of the way places to live in, this is the worst. Path's a bog, and the road's a torrent. I don't know what people are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses in the road are let, they think it doesn't matter." (Jacobs)

The remoteness of the location also helps the reader understand that the knocking on the door that occurs after Mr. White makes the second wish is most definitely their son, Herbert risen from the grave.  The reader does not know who is knocking on the door for sure, but because of the rural area in which they live and the fact  that it is unlikely that anyone would be walking near their home, the Whites believe and so does the reader the knocking is from Herbert. 

"He stood motionless, his breath suspended until the knock was repeated. Then he turned and fled swiftly back to his room, and closed the door behind him. A third knock sounded through the house."