What is the introduction to "The Monkey's Paw"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although author W. W. Jacobs does not choose to use a traditional introduction to his short story, "The Monkey's Paw," the entirety of Part I serves as such. The first paragraph creates a dark mood with the bad weather outside, and the seemingly innocent mood inside with the chess match between father and son as the mother tends to her knitting. They are awaiting a guest who has decided to visit despite the bad weather conditions. Jacobs creates tension during his description of the chess match: They take "unnecessary perils"; the father makes a "fatal mistake"; and he then "bawled... with sudden and unlooked-for violence." When Sergeant-Major Morris finally arrives, he eventually tells the story of the paw, which enthralls the Whites. Despite his warning of the paw's dangers, Mr. White retrieves it from the fire after Morris tosses it in. Morris leaves, and White makes his first wish before he and his wife go to bed, leaving Herbert to gaze at horrible faces he imagines in the fire. The chapter serves to set up the remainder of the story--and the results of the three wishes--that occur over the next few days. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The introduction to the short story "The Monkey's Paw" involves an innocent yet symbolic chess match between Mr. White and his son. This is followed by a rather enigmatic visit from Sergeant-Major Morris. As was mentioned in the previous post, W.W. Jacobs creates an ominous atmosphere by illustrating the rather secluded home of Mr. White on a terribly rainy night. During Sergeant-Major Morris's visit, Mr. White asks about the monkey's paw Morris mentioned in a previous conversation. Morris attempts to dismiss the subject but eventually explains to the Whites how an old fakir put a spell on the monkey's paw to show people that fate controlled their lives. Morris then tosses the paw into the fire, but Mr. White retrieves it. After Morris leaves, Mr. White holds the monkey's paw in his hands and wishes for two hundred pounds to pay off his home. Suddenly, the monkey's paw moves in his hand and startles Mr. White. After Mrs. White and Herbert head to bed, Mr. White stares into the fire and sees the terrible face of a monkey in the flames.