What does this scene aim to convey/communicate to the reader in "The Monkey's Paw"?In the part where Mrs. White rushes to the door to try to unbolt it and Mr. White is looking for the monkey's paw...

What does this scene aim to convey/communicate to the reader in "The Monkey's Paw"?

In the part where Mrs. White rushes to the door to try to unbolt it and Mr. White is looking for the monkey's paw to make his last wish, what does this scene aim to convey/communicate to the reader?

Asked on by dlow1996

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MaudlinStreet's profile pic

MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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This is the climax of the story, as it is the most intense, suspenseful moment. Both Mr. and Mrs. White are revealing their true characters, while at the same time reflecting the rather cliche theme "Be careful what you wish for."

Mrs. White, whose passive role in the story has led to her wish to have Herbert back, is showing her maternal instincts as she races to open the door. At the time this story was written, as an elderly housewife and mother, her life would be lived through the men in her family. Thus, when Herbert dies, her wish to bring him back is natural. Her reaction to the knock is natural as well: What mother wouldn't want to see her son again?

Mr. White, however, knows the truth of what is knocking at the door. his character appraoches life much like the chess game in the beginning of the story. In short, he is reckless. It is his "sensible" wish for 200 pounds that brings about the fakir's curse and his son's death. At the end of the story, he attempts to correct his error by sending his son back to the grave. He wishes to save his wife further horror by protecting her from the spectre behind the door.

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sullymonster's profile pic

sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

What we are meant to understand in this scene is that Mr. White has realized the curse of the paw.  He understands finally that the wishes that are made do not come out as planned.  As such, he understands that the "person" at the door isn't really his son but more of a monster brought back from the dead.

Mrs. White can't see this, as she is too distraught with the grief of having lost her son.  Her desperation to get to the door is combined with Mr. White's desperation to get the paw.  Both are meant to convey an added sense of suspense and tension for the audience.  Who will get to their goal first?  And, if it is Mrs. White, what will the apparition of her son really be like?  The author builds the drama of the scene by making the answers uncertain. 

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