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The Monkey's Paw

by W. W. Jacobs

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Mr. White in The Monkey’s Paw and Sammy in A&P are both protagonists who misjudge the situation around them. Even though they are different in age, name three or four similarities about their personalities or about what motivates them.

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"The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs and "A&P" by John Updike have protagonists that are similar in a number of ways. Mr. White is an old British man and Sammy is an American teenager. Separated by age and geography, they are still kindred spirits when it comes to making poor decisions. You should consider how both Mr. White and Sammy are negatively affected by their curiosity.

Mr. White is interested in his friend, Sergeant-Major Morris, who traveled across the globe for the military. Mr. White remarks that he would like to go to India as well, to "just to look round a bit." This desire for the exotic grows when Morris produces the titular monkey paw. Despite repeated warnings, Mr. White takes the cursed item and makes a wish.

Sammy becomes curious when three girls walk into his grocery store wearing bathing suits. He ogles them, becoming distracted to the point where he cannot do his job properly. While staring he builds up a fantasy about the girls, imagining a hierarchy and interpreting meaning from the way they walk. When his manager chastises them for wearing bathing suits to the store, he decides that they must be defended. He tries to impress the girls by quitting in protest, not because he cares about them and their embarrassment but because he hopes "they'll stop and watch me, their unsuspected hero."

Sammy and Mr. White make terrible choices because they are curious about a group of cute girls or an exotic item. Other similarities worth exploring are how they receive and reject warnings, as well as their interest in fantasies such as the Arabian Nights and the Queenie hierarchy.

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