The key symbol of this story is the monkey's paw itself, which stands in for the power of fate. Indeed, the sergeant-major says as much to this effect, when he says, of the talisman's creation:
He wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow.
As the story continues, the White family takes possession of this talisman. The father wishes for two hundred pounds—a wish with fatal consequences, when the son dies in an accident at work. The second wish will be to revive the deceased son, before the last wish undoes the effect of the second.
Seen from the perspective of the sergeant-major's words early on in the story, one might say that the White family and the monkey's paw exist symbolically in relation with one another. They each represent something of the human condition. The monkey's paw represents the power of fate and the futility of trying to manipulate or contravene it. Ultimately, the message is one of human vulnerability,...
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