What is the resolution in "The Monkey's Paw"?

The resolution in "The Monkey's Paw" includes Mrs. White crying in disappointment as her husband journeys to the gate, where all he can see is a streetlight shining on a deserted road with no sign of Herbert's zombie corpse.

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The resolution of a story occurs when the main conflict is worked out. A resolution usually coincides with a story's end.

The conflict in "The Monkey's Paw" is between the danger the paw represents and its power to grant its owner three wishes. Sergeant-Major Morris warns the Whites of the exotic paw's danger before flinging it into the fire. Mr. White, however, succumbs to temptation and pulls the paw from the flames.

The rational, Western Whites are half ashamed to invest belief in what seems a fantastic superstition that the shriveled "Oriental" paw could have magical powers. Nevertheless, at the advice of their son, they decide, half-jokingly, to wish for 200 pounds to pay off their mortgage. They experience the cruel power of the paw when they find out that their son has been killed on the job, but has a 200 pound insurance policy that they will receive.

The climax of the story comes after Mrs. White demands that her husband wish for their son to be returned to life. He does so. Late at night they hear a knock at the front door. At this climatic moment, the Whites both assume it is their son. Mr. White does not want to answer the door because he is afraid the son is returning as a mutilated corpse. Mrs. White, however, rushes to the door. The resolution comes when Mr. White is able to find the paw and wish that his son disappear before Mrs. White flings opens the door. We never know who was actually at the door or in what form, but the issue of using the power of the paw to try to gain the upper hand over fate is resolved when Mr. White refuses to take a chance on what his resurrected son will be.

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In literature, the resolution takes place after the climax and falling action. The resolution is also the part of the story where the main conflict is resolved or worked out. In W. W. Jacobs's classic short story "The Monkey's Paw," Mr. White is visited by his friend Sergeant-Major Morris, who shows him the cursed monkey's paw and warns him about its malevolent powers before tossing it into the fire. However, Mr. White saves the talisman from the fire and casually wishes for two hundred pounds to pay off his mortgage. Although Mr. White's wish comes true, it results in the tragic death of his son.

Later in the story, Mrs. White realizes that the monkey's paw works and instructs her husband to wish for Herbert to return back to life. Mr. White follows his wife's instructions and reluctantly wishes for Herbert to come back to life. In the middle of the night, Herbert's zombie corpse arrives at the White residence and begins knocking at the door. The climax of the story takes place as Mrs. White struggles to open the door while her husband desperately searches for the monkey's paw to make his final wish. Fortunately, Mr. White is able to make his last wish moments before his wife opens the door. The falling action is when the knocking suddenly stops and Mrs. White opens the door. The resolution consists of the final two sentences of the story, which include Mrs. White crying in disappointment and Mr. White's journey to the gate, where all he can see is a streetlight shining on a deserted road.

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The resolution at the end of "The Monkey’s Paw" is left ambiguous. After Mr. White’s first wish accidentally results in the death of his son Herbert, Mrs. White forces him to wish that Herbert was alive again. In the final moments of W. W. Jacobs’s short story, Mr. White uses his final wish, and the knocking at the door goes away. When he opens it, no one is there, and we learn that “The streetlight opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.” "The Monkey’s Paw" works through themes of fate and causality, and the lack of clear resolution at the end emphasizes these themes.

Mr. White’s first two wishes appear in the story in the form of dialogue, and thus the reader knows precisely what he has asks for. With the first wish in particular, we are able to analyze the chain of cause and effect: we can see how his wish for 200 pounds brings about the death of his son.

With the final wish, this dynamic is reversed: we see the first signs of his wish (its effect), but we do not know what he has asked for. Morris tells the White family that the paw was designed to show the power of fate and teach a lesson to those who try to challenge it. The first wish certainly supports this idea, and the final line of the story reveals an unnerving degree of isolation. We know that their son is not there, and given the cursed origin of the paw, we can assume that another tragedy probably awaits the White family. Did Mr. White wish for his son to go away, or for there to be no one outside his door? What if no one is left alive in the world except Mr. and Mrs. White? The ambiguity at the end draws attention to the risk of trying to control fate.

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