The basic plot of the short story is as follows:
First, the main characters are: Mr. and Mrs. White, their adult son, Herbert, and their friend, Sergeant-Major Morris.
Second, Sergeant-Major Morris visits the Whites and leave them with a monkey's paw. He also tell them a mysterious tale about the paw. It is supposed to grant three wishes. The family, of course, does not believe it at first.
Third, as the plot progresses, the family, out of fun, wishes for their mortgage to be paid off and suddenly the money comes. However, it is the money that was given due to the death of their son. When the family wishes for the son to come to life, they hear a knocking on their door. This scares them. For they final wish, they wish that their son remain dead and the knocking stops.
The point of the story is to play with the idea of fate and tampering with fate.