What can you infer about the father's personality based on how he plays chess?

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an excellent question.  It is no coincidence that Mr. White and Hebert are playing chess at the beginning of the story.  It is also no coincidence that Mr. White made a serious mistake. This shows something of his personality.  Before I proceed, here is the text:

‘Listen to the wind,’ said Mr white. He had made a serious mistake and wanted to distract his son’s attention so that he wouldn’t see it.

As the text suggests, Mr. White make a serious mistake, and he tried to distract his son from seeing it.  As the story progresses, we see that Mr. White makes several more serious mistakes.  His friend Sergeant Major Morris tells him of a magical paw that brings wishes but also suffering.  In fact, Morris says that the previous person who used it asked for death as his third wish.  From these words, Mr. White should have let the paw burn in the fire (after Morris threw it in). 

He made a serious mistake by saving the paw.  The paw would create great suffering for his family.  After his son dies, he makes another mistake. He wishes for his son to come back to life.  The only redeeming decision that he makes is to make everything go away. 

 

Read the study guide:
The Monkey's Paw

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