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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How does each family member react to learning about the monkey's paw?

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When they first learn about the monkey's paw, Mrs. White and her son are full of questions as to who has benefitted from having their wishes granted. Mr. White shows his keen interest in the paw by pulling it out of the fire after Sergeant-Major Morris has thrown it in.

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The short story "The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs begins on a cold, wet, and windy night. The White family is in the parlor of their home. Mr. White and his son Herbert are playing chess while Mrs. White watches. They are interrupted by a visit from Sergeant-Major Morris, who tells them stories about his many years in India. Eventually, Morris begins to tell the Whites about a mummified monkey's paw that he obtained from an old fakir. He calls it "just a bit of what you might call magic," but then, he goes on to tell of a spell upon it that gives three men three wishes each. According to Morris, the first man's third wish was for death. He also does not seemed pleased about the three wishes that he used. After telling about the paw, Morris abruptly throws it into the fire.

At this point, we see the initial reactions of the three family members. Mr. White snatches it out of the fire and seems eager to try it out. Morris suggests that he throw it back on the fire but then tells Mr. White that to use it, he should "hold it up in [his] right hand, and wish aloud." At this point, Mrs. White is about to serve dinner. She jokingly suggests that Mr. White should wish for "four pairs of hands" for her, and the Whites all laugh. It is obvious that none of them have yet taken the monkey's paw seriously. Morris urges Mr. White that if he must wish, he should "wish for something sensible."

After Morris leaves, the Whites still seem to be skeptical about the power of the monkey's paw. Herbert suggests frivolously that Mr. White wish to be an emperor, and then he suggests that Mr. White wish for 200 pounds so he can pay off the house. When Mr. White makes his wish, he is shocked that the paw moves as he holds it. Herbert, still skeptical, supposes that they will never see the money. They are all depressed as they go off to bed.

In the morning, Mrs. White dismisses the monkey's paw as nonsense. Mr. White, though, is uncertain, as he considers what Morris said about how the wishes were granted. We see, then, that initially Herbert White frivolously laughs about the power of the paw, Mrs. White calls it nonsense, and only Mr. White is uncertain about what the paw can really do.

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The first we hear of the monkey's paw is when Mr. White reminds the sergeant-major that he had mentioned something about the artefact a few days previously.

While the sergeant-major quickly tried to change the subject, Mrs. White was the first to react and asked to hear more about it. When she sees the mummified little paw, however, she finds it unappealing and draws back immediately. Her initial reaction to the paw, before hearing of its powers, was one of disgust.

The Whites' son, Herbert, on the other hand, took it and examined it carefully. We can imagine him trying to work out what on earth could be so special about an ancient paw.

Mr. White's reaction was similar to that of his son. After Herbert had examined the paw, Mr. White took it from him and also examined it, before putting it back on the table.

Their reactions change somewhat when they learn about the power of the monkey's paw. Herbert and Mrs. White are immediately full of questions as to who has had three wishes granted. Mr. White showed the strength of his desire to know more about the paw by reaching into the fire to retrieve the paw after Morris had thrown it onto the fire, intending to destroy it.

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When Sergeant-Major Morris initially tells the story behind the magic monkey's paw, Mr. White and his son are intrigued by the story. Both Mr. White and his son, Herbert, ask Sergeant-Major Morris several questions regarding the monkey's paw, its origins, and its history. While both Mr. White and his son find the monkey's paw fascinating, they are not positive that the paw is actually magical and want to find out for themselves if Morris is telling the truth. Mrs. White does not believe that the monkey's paw has any magical powers and dismisses it as being pure fantasy. After her husband recovers it from the fire, Mrs. White comments, "Sounds like the ‘Arabian Nights'" (Jacobs, 3). Herbert then encourages his father to make a wish and suggests that he wish for two hundred pounds to pay off the mortgage. Mr. White considers Herbert's suggestion and casually wishes for two hundred pounds. Suddenly, Mr. White feels the monkey's paw move and his wife insists that it was simply his imagination. Herbert also reveals his doubts about the magical powers of the monkey's paw before heading to bed. Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. White discover the dark truth behind the monkey's paw as their worst fears come to fruition.

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In "The Monkey's Paw," the Sergeant-Major shows the White family a monkey's paw that he says has magical powers. Mrs. White's first reaction to the paw is one of disgust. She doesn't seem to put much value into what the Sergeant-Major says about the paw and even jokes that her husband should wish for her to have four hands.

Herbert takes the paw from the Sergeant-Major's hand to look at it more closely. After their guest leaves, Herbert shares that he doesn't think the Sergeant-Major has been truthful in his tale about the monkey's paw and feels that "we shan’t make much out of it." However, he does participate in helping his father decide on a first wish.

Mr. White asks the Sergeant-Major if he has made his three wishes. He confirms that he has made three wishes and then tosses the paw into the fire. However, Mr. White quickly retrieves the paw and asks if he can have it. Cautioned by the Sergeant-Major to destroy it, Mr. White instead asks how to make a wish.

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The White's have three different responses. Herbert, the son, is very interested and thinks of immediately becoming rich and famous. Mrs. White doesn't seem to take the paw too seriously. In fact, she likens it to something from Arabian Nights. Mr. White is, at first, just mildly interested, but he is the character who takes it from the fire and decides to keep it!

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How do Mr. White's wife and son first react to the story about the monkey's paw?

Mrs. White and Herbert react to the story of the monkey's paw with humor. Neither appears to quite believe in the power of the paw when Sergeant Major-Morris tells them of its power. Mrs. White says the paw sounds like an enchanted item out of the Arabian Nights and jokingly says they should wish for more pairs of hands for her. When Mr. White later claims the paw moved in his hand when he made a wish, Mrs. White doubts this. Her skepticism is gentle but ever-present in these first scenes, illustrating her sensible and maternal characterization.

Herbert assumes an even less reverent attitude, coming off as flippant when talking about the paw with both Morris and his parents. He makes clever comments while Morris is sharing his story and continues to joke about the paw once it is in the possession of the family. It is he who suggests they wish for money. When the wish is not immediately granted, Herbert heaps scorn upon the legend of the paw, claiming they will never see a single scrap of the money. Even when his father claims the paw moved, Herbert does not relent in his irreverence:

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

"Well, I don't see the money," said his son as he picked it up and placed it on the table, "and I bet I never shall."

"It must have been your fancy, father," said his wife, regarding him anxiously.

He shook his head. "Never mind, though; there's no harm done, but it gave me a shock all the same."

They sat down by the fire again while the two men finished their pipes. Outside, the wind was higher than ever, and the old man started nervously at the sound of a door banging upstairs. A silence unusual and depressing settled upon all three, which lasted until the old couple rose to retire for the night.

"I expect you'll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your bed," said Herbert, as he bade them good-night, "and something horrible squatting up on top of the wardrobe watching you as you pocket your ill-gotten gains."

Ironically, the money does eventually come, but in the form of compensation for Herbert's death in a work-related accident, making both his and Mrs. White's initial skepticism tragic.

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How does the White family first react to the monkey’s paw?

In the beginning of "The Monkey's Paw," the White family is visited by Sergeant-Major Morris, the previous owner of the talisman, who tells them about it, and provides warning of its ill effects. However, the White family does not heed these warnings. At this point, it is clear they do not take the Monkey's Paw all that seriously. The conversation between them is quite lighthearted. Mrs. White, while cooking dinner, makes an offhand comment about wishing for additional hands (for which Morris rebukes them), and later, their son makes a suggestion that his father wish to become an emperor. In the end, when Mr. West admits to not knowing what to wish for, his son suggests wishing for two hundred pounds. This will become Mr. West's first wish. None of them foresee the gruesome manner through which this wish will be granted.

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How does the White family first react to the monkey’s paw?

When the Sergeant-Major first mentions the power of the monkey's paw, the White family is very curious and eager to know more. Both Mr. White and Herbert, for example, pick up the paw to examine it further.

As the Sergeant tells the story, the White family is full of disbelief. They are conscious, for example, that their "light laughter" might irritate or offend the Sergeant.

Nevertheless, their curiosity regarding the power of the monkey's paw is enough to make them want to keep it. When the Sergeant throws it on the fire, Mr. White rescues it and asks how to make a wish. Similarly, Herbert tells his father to wish for £200.

Despite the Sergeant's warnings, the family does not listen. They are so captivated by the paw's potential power that they use it to make a wish. It is only when Herbert dies at work that they come to realize the true nature of the monkey's paw, but by then it is too late.

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In "The Monkey's Paw," how does the Whites' reaction about the monkey's paw change through the story?

Consider the way in which the Whites first respond to the sergeant major's announcement of his possession of some real Indian magic. When he introduces the monkey's paw and then tells the Whites that it is "just a bit of what you might call magic," the text shows the interest of the Whites by describing how attentive they were: "His three listeners leaned forward eagerly." However, the way in which their first wish is actually granted seems to point towards their understanding of the lesson that the monkey's paw was created to teach. Note the response of Mr. White to the $200 he is given as compensation for his son's death:

Unconscious of his wife's shriek, the old man smiled faintly, put out his hands like a sightless man, and dropped, a senseless heap, to the floor.

Clearly, this strongly suggests that Mr. White has learned that "fate ruled people's lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow." This is supported by the way in which he uses the final wish to cancel the second. His wife, on the other hand, clearly has not learnt this lesson, as her determination to get her husband to use the monkey's paw to restore their son to them shows.

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How do each of the Whites react when first hearing the legend of the monkey's paw in In W. W. Jacobs's short story "The Monkey's Paw"?

In W. W. Jacobs's paranormal short story "The Monkey's Paw," one of the first reactions when a monkey's paw is mentioned is idle curiosity, as expressed by Mrs. White when she asks, "Monkey's paw?" However, as soon as Sergeant-Major Morris speaks of magic, all three of the White characters become deeply interested.

The moment Morris pulls the monkey's paw out of his pocket also solicits very different reactions. Mrs. White is repulsed by the dried, mummified paw of a monkey. In contrast, the adult-aged son, Herbert White, grows immediately very fascinated by the appearance of the paw and takes it into his hands to examine it. The father also examines it, having taken it from Herbert, but his attitude seems much more reserved than the son's, as we can see when he asks, "And what is there special about it?," indicating he doubts upon appearances that there is anything special about the paw at all.

After Morris explains the spell that the fakir, an Indian holy man, had placed on the paw, the Whites's reactions vary again though the initial reaction is that all three characters laughed very hard to hear about the spell. Herbert even continues to show amusement when he asks Morris why doesn't go ahead and have three wishes fulfilled. In comparison, Mrs. White continues to express curiosity as she asks if his wishes had been granted and if anyone esle's wishes had. In contrast, Mr. White grows somberly serious and reflects that the paw is no longer useful to Morris if he has already been granted three wishes and asks, "What do you keep it for?" The seriousness of Mr. White's reaction continues to be expressed when he grabs the paw off of the fire and keeps it, paying Morris for the paw though he is warned by Morris to destroy it.

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How does each member of the White family react when first hearing the legend of the monkey's paw?

The Whites appear to be a normal, happy family in the beginning of W. W. Jacobs' short story "The Monkey's Paw." There are, however, hints that evil lurks including the fact that they live at Laburnum Villa (the Laburnum tree can be poisonous) and the night is "cold and wet." The family is made up of Mr. and Mrs. White and their son Herbert. Each family member's reaction is different when Sergeant Major Morris shows them the monkey's paw. Mrs. White is at first curious when it is mentioned but then repulsed when the Sergeant Major produces the talisman. Curiosity turns to disgust. In contrast, Herbert readily takes the paw and examines it "closely." Mr. White is obviously quite interested in the paw because he brings up the topic which the Sergeant Major had mentioned to him a few days earlier. Eventually this interest leads Mr. White into acquiring the paw from Morris, and it's possible that he may have actually believed the story, thinking that ownership of the paw could be a benefit. As for Mrs. White and Herbert, they are dubious over the Sergeant Major's claims that it has magic power. Mrs. White suggests that it is from the "Arabian Nights." Likewise, Herbert finds humor in the paw when he tells his father to "wish to be an emperor." Even after Mr. White wishes for "two hundred pounds" and the paw seems to move, the family goes back to its normal life and the paw is forgotten, "pitched on the sideboard with a carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues." Only later in the day is the paw's true evil revealed to Mr. and Mrs. White.

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How does each member of the White family react when first hearing the legend of the monkey's paw?

All three family members initially demonstrate curiosity about this magical talisman from a distant land. Mr. White has to talk Morris into telling the story behind the paw, and "his three listeners leaned forward eagerly." When Morris pulls the paw out of his pocket, Mrs. White instinctively "drew back with a grimace," but her husband and son inspected it curiously. After hearing about the curse, both Mr. and Mrs. White ply Morris with questions aimed at revealing whether there were still any wishes left. 

When Mr. White rescues the paw from the fire, Morris gives him an ominous warning: "I warn you of the consequences."

As the group sits down to dinner, the mood lightens a bit, and when Mr. White starts to wish an extra pair of hands for his wife, "all three burst into laughter."

All three members of the White family are setting themselves up for the same fate as the cat curiosity killed. Mrs. White should have heeded her initial gut reaction when she first laid eyes on the paw, but curiosity prods her and her family to ignore their guest's warning. 

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In "The Monkey's Paw," how does each of the Whites react when first hearing the legend of the monkey's paw ?

Sergeant Major Morris tells his curious audience the following about the paw:

"It had a spell put on it by an old fakir, a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it."

The Sergeant-Major told the story with such conviction that all three the Whites realised that their slightly jovial attitude was out of place for the issue was a serious one.

Herbert was the first to respond and he thought that he was being quite clever by asking Morris why he did not make three wishes himself. He clearly does not take the story seriously and continues to mock the entire idea of the paw having such supernaural properties. He later emphasises his cynicism by saying:

If the tale about the monkey's paw is not more truthful than those he has been telling us, ... we sha'nt make much out of it.

and

Why, we're going to be rich, and famous and happy. Wish to be an emperor, father, to begin with; then you can't be henpecked.

He also tells his father:

If you only cleared the house, you'd be quite happy, wouldn't you?. ...Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that 'll just do it.

Herbert takes his mother's lead and his cynicism is pertinent. Ironically, it is this suggestion which results in the gruesome sequence of events later.

Mrs White is quite intrigued at first and repeatedly asks the Sergeant-Major questions about the paw and what he did with it. She obviously wants to know more. Later, she however adopts a flippant attitude and makes fun. She says:

Sounds like the Arabian Nights, ... Don't you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?

She is suggesting that the entire tale sounds like a Middle-Eastern fairy-tale and therefore cannot be true. Her suggestion about wishing for four pairs of hands is an explicit declaration of her disbelief. 

Mr White comes across as the one most profoundly affected by Sergeant-Major Morris' supernatural tale. He at no point makes fun of the paw's supposed powers. The depth of his intrigue and interest is indicated when he grabs the paw out of the coals in the fireplace when the Sergeant-Major throws it into the fire in order to destroy it. He is also the one who asks the most insightful questions, such as:

If you've had your three wishes, it's no good to you now, then, Morris, ... What do you keep it for?

and

If you could have another three wishes," said the old man, eyeing him keenly, "would you have them?

Mr White seems to have believed most of what the Sergeant-Major said and he appears determined to put the paw to the test, in spite of Morris' warning. He actually does make a wish. At Herbert's suggestion, he wishes for two hundred pounds to clear his bond, even though he expresses some doubt. This wish is to become horribly true later. 

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In "The Monkey's Paw," how does each of the Whites react when first hearing the legend of the monkey's paw ?

Mrs. White withdraws from the paw at first, not wishing to touch it.  Later that evening, she treats the subject lightly, joking that her husband might wish for an extra pair of arms.  Her levity reveals that she does not fully believe in the paw's power.

Mr. White is amazed by the story and potential of the paw.  In fact, when Morris throws the paw onto the fire, White wants it so bad that he snatches it off the fire.  He truly believes in the paw's magic.

Herbert-- Incredulous, but intrigued, Herbert's reaction is at first joking--to wish to be an emperor-- but then a practical one, advising his father to wish for two hundred pounds. 

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How do the Whites react when the family first learns about the monkey's paw? In what way is Mr. White first wish fulfilled?

When Mr. White learns about the monkey's paw and its ability to grant three wishes to three people, he is very intrigued. He does not feel afraid, even though Sergeant Major Morris advises him to throw it away. The Whites, after they make their first wish, think that the monkey's paw does not really have any power. Even though they were told that the first owner's last wish was for death.

Sergeant Major Morris does not tell us what he wished for, but he tries to dispose of the monkey's paw by throwing it in the fire. Mr. White rescues it.

Once he has properly paid Sergeant Major Morris a small amount for the monkey's paw, he wishes for 200 pounds, English money.

His first wish is granted through the loss of his son, Herbert. A stranger calls on the Whites to inform them that Herbert was killed in an accident at the factory, he fell into a machine. For their loss, they are given a check of compensation for the sum of $200 pounds.

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How does each of the Whites react when first hearing the legend of the monkey's paw?  

When the sergeant major first arrived, he had the monkey's paw in his pocket.  It was a withered paw that was taken from a mummy.  Mrs. White grimaced at its sight. Mr. White was curious as to why it was so special.  He examined it and placed it on the table. Mr. White, however, was the one who snatched the monkey's paw out of the fire. Mrs. White thought it sounded like the Arabian Nights and was just a fantastic tale.  She said "Don't you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?" (It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he did that!) Mr. White is dubious too.  Even though he pays the sergeant major a trifle for the monkey's paw, he keeps it in his pocket. He doesn't know what to wish for because he is happy and has everything he wants. 

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