illustration of an open-faced monkey's paw with a skull design on the palm

The Monkey's Paw

by W. W. Jacobs

Start Free Trial

Why was the sergeant reluctant to give the Whites the paw in "The Monkey's Paw"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The sergeant (Sergeant-Major Morris) was totally right to not want to give the paw to the Whites.

The reason he was unwilling to give it to them was that he had (it is implied) found out the hard way that the wishes would come true, but only in a horrible way like they did for the Whites.  If he did know that, then of course he should not have given it to them.

What I don't get is why he still had it with him and why he let them take it or even showed it to them.  I think he should have burned it himself way before then.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The sergeant already knew the dreaded secret of the monkey's paw, and he did not wish the Whites to suffer the same fate as the previous owners. The sergeant was not the first owner of the paw--the previous owner had suffered some terrible fate--and the sergeant had already had his three wishes delivered, and apparently they were not to his liking. For this reason, he tossed the paw into the fireplace, where it was retrieved by Mr. White's son, Herbert. As the Whites would soon find out, the monkey's paw did grant three wishes to anyone who possessed it, but the wishes always had a strange and terrible twist.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial