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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What could have occurred if the Whites had opened the door during the knocking in "The Monkey's Paw"?

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First of all, we don't write essays for questioners, but we can lead you in directions that can help you write your own essay.

The question you ask: "What might have happened if the Whites had opened the door when the knocking occurred?" cannot be answered. The reason it cannot be answered is the point of the story.

The "Monkey's Paw" is about the open question of whether fate rules our lives. Neither you nor I nor the author nor anyone else knows the answer to that question. We all have our theories on the matter and no one knows for sure. No one. That's why the Whites do not open the door and why the reader is left with an image of an assumption without a resolution.

It is the sound of one hand clapping.

As to horror tales, in general, this story is of a special nature. The only really awful and horrific thing that happens in the story is that Howard gets caught, mangles and killed in the machinery where he works. The rest of the horror, if there is any, is in the reader's mind.

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We have to assume that the knocking is Herbert.  We have to assume that he has in some way risen from the dead.  But we also have to assume that he's not a truly living being.  So he must be some sort of zombie or living dead thing like in the Thriller video (I assume people still know what that is...)

Horror stories tell us that those kind of things are always angry and out to get the living.  Herbert might be extra mad at his parents for having made the wishes that made him die and then made him into a zombie.

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