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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Which scene in the story can be changed slightly in setting and build-up, without changing characters, and still reflect a moral? Please elaborate. I was asked to do a tableaux on the short story, and for 3 additional scenes, I was to change the scene's setting and the characters' reaction/actions, even the outcome, but the conflict must be the same. I brainstormed but came out only with 2 scenes. A moral or theme or message must be conveyed, and the whole situation must be plausible (with exception to the magic involved with the monkey's paw)

Expert Answers

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One scene that I can think of that fits your requirements would be the part of the story that contains the last two wishes.  The second wish is for Mr. and Mrs. White's son Herbert to return from the dead.  Wish number 3 is the one I would change.  Instead of Mr. White wishing Herbert back into the grave,  like he does in the following passage, the last wish is never used, because only Mr. White can make that wish.

"The bolt," she cried loudly. "Come down. I can't reach it."

"But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If only he could find it before the thing outside got in. A perfect fusillade of knocks reverberated through the house, and he heard the scraping of a chair as his wife put it down in the passage against the door. He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came slowly back, and at the same moment he found the monkeys's paw, and frantically breathed his third and last wish." (Jacobs)

Instead of being inside the house, the Whites, once Mrs. White realized that they still had two wishes left on the monkey's paw left the house and started walking towards the cemetary where Herbert was buried.  Mr. White wishes Herbert alive again, as Mrs. White and her husband run towards the burial ground of their beloved son, she sees him, standing there fully restored to health.

Mrs. White turns around to see where her husband is and he is lying on the floor, he has died of a heart attack while running to catch up with his wife.  Mrs. White and Herbert approach the body, looking for the monkey's paw, but they can't use it because it is Mr. White who had the power to make the wishes, so the third wish dies with him.

The moral of this change in the story, of course, is be careful what you wish for, the Whites have still lost one member of their family, they have still lost more than they gained and now, they must leave the community because everyone thinks that Herbert is dead.



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