What amount of compensation was the company willing to pay in the short story, "The Monkey's Paw?"

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The compensation that the company was willing to pay for the death of Herbert, Mr. and Mrs. White's son, was two hundred pounds. The significance of this amount is that it is exactly what Mr. White wished for. 

When Sergeant Major Morris told the Whites about the power of the monkey's paw, the Whites were skeptical (as to be expected). Herbert bid his father to make a wish, even if it was just for fun or curiosity. Mr. White does so. Here is the quote:

‘If you could finish paying for the house you’d be quite happy, wouldn’t you?’ Herbert said. ‘Wish for two hundred pounds, then. That’ll just do it.’

Later a representative from Herbert's workplace comes to tell them of the bad new of Herbert's death. Here is the quote:

‘I have to tell you that Maw and Meggins do not hold themselves responsible for what has happened,’ the visitor continued. ‘But in consideration of your son’s services they wish to give you a certain amount of money as compensation.'

Dropping his wife’s hand, Mr White stood up and stared at the man with a look of horror. 

‘How much?’ he said.

‘Two hundred pounds.’

At this point in the story, it seems that the monkey's paw is really magical and cursed. The two hundred pounds seem more than coincidence. The words of Morris and the fakir seem correct.

An old fakir put a spell on it. He was a very holy man and he wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that to interfere with fate only caused deep sadness. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it.’

Read the study guide:
The Monkey's Paw

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