The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What motivated Mr. White to tell his son to listen to the wind?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,456 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

At the beginning of W. W. Jacob's classic short story "The Monkey's Paw," Mr. White is playing his son, Herbert, in a game of chess and puts his king in "unnecessary perils." In an attempt to distract Herbert from noticing his costly mistake, Mr. White calls his attention to the harsh wind. However, Herbert does not fall for his father's trick and continues to survey the chessboard. Herbert then recognizes his father's mistake and wins the game by putting him in check.

Mr. White's chess performance is significant to the story and portrays him as a reckless individual who is willing to make careless, costly mistakes. Chess is a game that requires foresight and caution, which are attributes that Mr. White does not possess. Later on, Mr. White will once again demonstrate his reckless nature and poor decision making by wishing upon the magic monkey's paw, which has disastrous implications.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial