The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs

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What do you think about the ending of The Monkey's Paw? What do you think about the ending of The Monkey's Paw?

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The fact that we do not know for sure who is knocking at the door gives the story more of a feeling of realism than if we found out it was the dead and horribly disfigured son returning home. The entire story remains realistic, although it is based on old tales of people granted three wishes by someone with magical powers. The monkey's paw may be nothing but an old curio with a legend attached to it. The son's death might have no connection with the wish for money. The person knocking at the door might be anybody. The intrusion of a supernatural event at the very end could spoil the overall effect of this story.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Like my colleagues, it is the not knowing which makes the ending so effective. Edgar Allan Poe was the master of this horror technique, and it still works today. Let's say the author describes what he thinks is the most horrific thing anyone can imagine; if a reader is not horrified, the effect is lost and the story fails. If, however, he leaves the horror to his readers' imaginations, the story will always be successful.

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lsumner eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree that the ending of "The Monkey's Paw" does capture the reader's attention. It as if the reader is holding his or her breath, wishing that Mr. White would hurry and find that paw. The reader is left with the image of a horrible scene outside that door. A first reading definitely intrigues the reader, causing an anguish  for the reader. If Herbert gets in the house, the mother will wish he hadn't. I think that the part I find most interesting is the fact that Mr. White made the second wish to please his wife. Of course, he had not really had time to think it through. The two miles that it took for Herbert to walk home gave him time to think about how gruesome his son would be on the other side of that door.

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think the ending of "The Monkey's Paw" is absolutely ingenious.  I think, as I always do about horror stories or films, that it's better NOT to know or see what is truly scary because our imaginations can ALWAYS do a better job of frightening us than any movie director or author can.  The best example (and one that seems really dumb, actually, when taken out of context) is the darn fire hose/extinguisher in King's novel The Shining.  It was months until I could walk by one of those in a hotel without being a bit wary.  (Ridiculous!  Ha!)   It is the short story "The Monkey's Paw" that provides yet another perfect example.  The reader imagines the absolute worst case scenario of Herbert knocking on that door, ... possibly one of the undead, ... possibly a mummy, ... possibly a rotting corpse, ... but most definitely the absolute scariest, and yet specific image to that person, that could possibly be imagined!  Great job, Jacobs, ... great job!

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree with other editors by focusing at the way that horror fiction that does not reveal but leaves it to our imagination...

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jendariel | Student

I think a more tragic, but perhaps less suspenseful, ending would be for Mrs. White to have opened the door before Mr. White made his last wish, have Herbert be returned just fine rather than mangled, only to die in front of her as Mr. White makes the wish.

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