illustration of an open-faced monkey's paw with a skull design on the palm

The Monkey's Paw

by W. W. Jacobs

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In the short story "The Monkey's Paw," what are two clues that foreshadow that the monkey’s paw is not a good thing?

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The first clue is provided for us when Sergeant-Major Morris throws the monkey's paw onto the fire. He knows how dangerous it is and how tempting it will be for the Whites to make three wishes on it. He's already witnessed firsthand the damage it can do. He now also...

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The first clue is provided for us when Sergeant-Major Morris throws the monkey's paw onto the fire. He knows how dangerous it is and how tempting it will be for the Whites to make three wishes on it. He's already witnessed firsthand the damage it can do. He now also knows that the Whites are unlikely to heed his ominous warnings as to the power of the paw. They clearly don't take it seriously at all, regarding it as nothing but a harmless piece of mumbo-jumbo. But Sergeant-Major Morris knows better. So he throws the money's paw onto the fire to keep it out of harm's way.

The second clue is in the story that Sergeant-Major Morris tells the Whites about the paw's history. He tells them that a man who made two wishes on the paw ended up wishing for death as his third. If someone wishes for death after using the paw twice, it's obvious that this is a very dangerous object indeed.

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The short story "The Monkey's Paw" is full of foreshadowing.  The reader knows before a wish is made that the monkey paw is a dangerous object.  For one thing, the first man to have to monkey's paw is dead.  Then, the second owner of the paw tries to burn it even though it can give another man three wishes.  Rather than give the paw to a friend, the Sergeant-Major wishes to destroy it.  Surely this is an ominous sign.  The Sergeant-Major also tells the Whites that a dark spell has been put on the paw.  The characters are aware that any wish could be twisted and turned "to their sorrow."  Of course, we see the fulfilment of all this foreshadowing with the wish.

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