There are several fateful decisions made at various points in the story that lead to Herbert's tragic death and the resurrection of Herbert's corpse from the grave. The most obvious fateful decision is Mr. White's casual use of the monkey's paw to wish for two hundred pounds to pay off the mortgage on his home. Shortly after Mr. White's wish, the reader discovers that Herbert's tragic death is linked to the malevolent monkey's paw. Mr. White's first wish drives the plot of the story and eventually leads to his second wish for his son to return back to life.
Despite the significance of Mr. White's decision to make the first wish, one could argue that his most fateful decision was to rescue the monkey's paw from the fire. At the beginning of the story, Sergeant-Major Morris suggests that the monkey's paw is wicked and proceeds to toss the talisman into the fire. At this point, Mr. White makes the fateful decision to retrieve the monkey's paw from the fire, against Sergeant-Major Morris's advice. Sergeant-Major Morris even tells Mr. White,
I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don't blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again, like a sensible man. (Jacobs, 4)
It can be argued that if Mr. White would have simply allowed the monkey's paw to burn, Herbert would still be alive, and the White family would not have experienced the trauma and panic that ensued following their son's death.