What are the setting and climax of "The Money's Paw," and why is it ironic?

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting is the house of a blue-collar working class family, all "hearth and home," which takes a sinister turn upon the arrival of a guest from a faraway land.  Though he does not seem to be malevolent, he brings the storm outside within the home. The talisman brings its curse by its sheer presence; it also evokes an unnatural and even morbid curiosity from the family members. The lurid flames from the fire presage the curse which is to come, and from this point on things go from bad to 'the worst.' The house which is literally 'a haven in the storm' in the beginning becomes nightmarish and freakish. All the knocking and clattering crescendoes upon Herbert's phantom return until his father puts both soul and body to rest. Which brings us to the second half of your question. The climax coincides with the crisis, the point of no return. This is determined by the father's choice, not the mother's, for it is he who 'saves' his son by the third and final wish. When he does this, 'the storm inside' suddenly abates - the uncanny noises cease, and once again natural order (and not the supernatural one) prevails.

The setting is ironic because the White's home which should symbolize family unity and safety becomes a kind of hell-house instead until the curse of the supernatural is broken; the climax is ironic in that Mr. White's choice which could seem cruel is rather an act of mercy done out of love for his son.

Susan Woodward eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The irony of "The Monkey's Paw" is that when Mr. White wishes for 200 pounds, he gets it as compensation for the death of his son on the job.  He got what he wished for, but certainly not in the way he'd ever imagined.  The setting is in a small village in England, and the action takes place in the home of the White family.  They are a working class family, and so they do not live in luxurious surroundings, but neither do they live in a hovel.  The climax of the story comes when Mrs. White wishes her son alive again, but not taking into account the condition of his body.  He becomes a walking corpse, much like something out of a George Romero film.