When a stranger comes to the Whites' door in "The Monkey's Paw," why does Mrs. White think he has come?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs. White actually has no clue who the stranger is who comes to her door in Chapter II of "The Monkey's Paw." She had noticed the man lingering outside their home, and three times he had passed the front gate without entering. Finally, he thrust open the gate and knocked on the door. Mrs. White welcomed him inside and apologized for the untidiness of the house. When he finally introduced himself as a representative of Maw and Meggins, Herbert's place of business, she and her husband knew the news was not good.

     "I'm sorry--" began the visitor.
     "Is he hurt?" demanded the mother, wildly.
     The visitor bowed in assent. "Badly hurt," he said, quietly, "but he is not in any pain."
     "Oh, thank God!" said the old woman, clasping her hands. "Thank God for that! Thank--"
     She broke off suddenly as the sinister meaning of the assurance dawned upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of her fears in the other's perverted face. 

The stranger had come to inform them that Herbert was dead, but that the paw's wish had come true: The family would receive 200 pounds as insurance compensation for Herbert's accidental death.

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The Monkey's Paw

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