illustration of an open-faced monkey's paw with a skull design on the palm

The Monkey's Paw

by W. W. Jacobs

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What are the moral values of "The Monkey's Paw"?

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The Monkey's Paw is a tale of warning. The short story is a warning to us all about what is really important in life. It makes us question our moral values. The Whites have a good life. Once the monkey's paw is introduced to them, everything changes for them. It changes the moral values they each have. The warning of the paw is that you need to be really careful what you wish for. The White's are warned that the outcome of the wishes is not what they think it is.

The Whites live a pretty normal life. They have a home and food and all of their basic needs are met. They are like everybody else in wanting to have what is unattainable to them. They want the money to pay off their house, even though they are financially comfortable. When they make the wish for the money, they have no idea of the nightmare it is bringing to their family. 

This short story is a tragic look into the greed that lays at the bottom of the human heart. We always seem to want what someone else has. The moral of this story tells the reader to beware of thinking someone else has it better than you. 

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One of the most obvious moral lessons in "The Monkey's Paw" is to be careful what you wish for: It just might come true. The curse of the claw is based on this premise. The paw's wishes always come true, but apparently only in a cruel and, sometimes, deadly manner. The Whites' decision to test fate despite the warning of the paw's previous owner--and the knowledge of the terrible previous results--shows a disregard of the otherwise sensible life they have lived. The family has a good life with little financial worries, yet they, like many people, want what they cannot have. Their first wish is not a greedy one; they only wish for enough money to pay off the tiny remaining mortgage on their home. But the wish backfires in tragic fashion. The second wish is based on love, but it is made quickly and with little thought of the repercussions. The final wish is the only sensible one made, and one can only wonder why a normal family would make the illogical decision to put their trust in such a horrible creature. 

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