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The sergeant-major who visits the Whites one cold and snowy night tells the family of a monkey's paw that has had a spell put upon it to prove the immutability of fate. When he tosses it into the fireplace of the Whites, Mr. White, who has earlier been reckless in his game of chess, retrieves it; then the soldier leaves and the monkey's paw belongs to the Whites.
Despite what the soldier who has been in many lands has told them, Mr. White and his son Herbert do not consider the talisman as genuine or as possessing any powerful properties. In fact, Mr. White smiles "shamefacedly at his own credulity" as he holds up the talisman; his son poses with a solemn face, but he winks to his mother and sits at the piano striking a few ominous chords. Clearly, the first error in judgment by the Whites is in considering the monkey's paw as a fake. Therefore, Mr. White does not seriously consider that his modest wish will come true.
In "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs, the characters who own the money's paw do not truly believe that it holds magical powers; consequently, Mr. White is rather frivolous in making the wsh, not pondering seriously upon his wish before rather rashly forming it. Secondly, Mrs. White does not consider the consequences of her wish that Herbert White be brought back from his untimely death. All in all, because the Whites (1) do not initially take the monkey's paw seriously, and they do not ponder and plan their wishes sufficiently, and (2) they do not consider all the consequences of what it is for which they wish, they meet with a tragic fate.
what advantages does the writer gain by allowing for alternative explanations?
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