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 might the first owner of "The Monkey's Paw" have wished for death?

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We can only speculate about the wishes made by the previous owners of the monkey's paw. Sergeant-Major Morris doesn't specify what his own wishes were; his three wishes were granted, he tells the Whites who, oddly, do not ask him what they were. Morris is still alive, so he does not ask for death as the owner before him had done. Morris does not appear to be a wealthy man, so his wishes may not have included great riches, as many people would request. The owner before Morris must have received terrible responses to his wishes, probably in an ironic manner in which he could never imagined--in much the same way as the Whites' wishes turned out.

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