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The Monkey's Paw

by W. W. Jacobs

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What literary device is represented by the chess game between father and son in "The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs?

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The game of chess, seen in W.W. Jacob's short story "The Monkey's Paw," can be identified as symbolism. Symbolism is the use of one object (typically concrete) as representative of another (typically abstract). Given that some abstract ideas cannot be manipulated in the same way concrete objects can, authors sometimes use manipulatives to represent and abstract idea.

IN the case of the story, the game of chess is symbolic of life itself. The father and son take risks, sometimes calculated sometimes not. Once the move has been played, it cannot be undone. As the mother watches the game, she becomes very nervous about the moves made (questioning her husband's choices). Given that Mr. White makes a choice which will change his families life forever, the game of chess is representative of the choices on makes in life and life itself (essentially, there is no going back to move a piece after it has been played--just like in life).

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