What makes this story intriguing is the juxtaposition of the rather dull setting of the remote Laburnam Villa in which the Whites live with the suggestion of the exotic setting of India brought to the Whites by the weathered British Sergeant Major. With its fakirs, talismans, sacred cows, snakes, and mystics, there is a certain mystery and ominousness to this place.
1. Laburnam Villa
- The pathway has turned into a bog
- The road is flooded
- A high wind blows
- Represented by Sergeant Major Morris, the India of the British Empire comes to Laburnam Villa in the form of a petrified monkey paw that has belonged to a fakir, a paw which he brings with him, but relinquishes reluctantly, it seems.
3. Maw and Meggins
- This setting is also represented by a man who passes back and forth outside the house, the agent of Maw and Meggins, who comes to the home of the Whites to inform them of the accidental death of their son.
4. The cemetery
- Set two miles from the house at Laburnam Villa where the Whites bury their only child, mangled so badly by machinery that he is unrecognizable, the cemetery haunts the Whites for a while. From this setting, Herbert White is removed by the magic of the monkey's paw, picked us again from the mantelpiece in the house; however, it is a perverse magic that has both killed and resurrected him. For, the final wish by the parents in their mercy must send his grotesque body a second death and a return into the earth.
Indeed, the words of the sergeant
It had a spell put on it by an old fakir...[who] wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives, and those that interfered with it did so to their sorrow.