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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Why did Mr. White drop the paw after he made his first wish in "The Monkey's Paw"?

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Although he did save the paw from destruction after Sergeant-Major Morris had thrown it into the fire, Mr. White was skeptical about the powers the talisman could provide. When Morris asked Mr. White if he would use any of the three wishes, Mr. White said, "I don't know." The father eyed the paw "dubiously," and shared in a laugh with the others before Morris left for the night. It was Herbert who prodded his father into making the first wish, a seemingly reasonable request for the amount of money still owed on the house. When Mr. White "shamefacedly" made the wish--"for two hundred pounds"--he was "greeted" by an unexplained "crash from the piano." Mr. White let out a "shuddering cry" as the family looked at the monkey's paw on the floor. Mr. White dropped the paw because

"... It moved...
As I wished, it twisted in my hand like a snake."

The paw produced no money that night, but after a visit from the representative of Maw and Meggins (the company for whom Herbert worked), the distraught Whites found that the wish had come true in a most horrible and ironic manner.

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