HomeenSummary and questions about "Monkey's paw"

Summary and questions about “Monkey’s paw”

The monkey’s paw , in English The Monkey’s Paw , is a horror story, a short story written by WW Jacobs in 1902 that revolves around the supernatural, about life choices and their consequences. Its argument tells the story of the White family, the mother, the father and their son Herbert, who receives a fateful visit from a friend, Sergeant Major Morris. Morris, recently arrived from India, shows the White family a fetish, a monkey’s claw, which he brought back as a souvenir from his travels. He tells the White family that the paw grants three wishes to the person who possesses it, but also warns that the talisman is cursed and those who fulfill the wishes will suffer dire consequences.

One wish, a thousand regrets. One wish, a thousand regrets.

When Morris tries to destroy the monkey’s paw by throwing it into the fireplace, Mr. White quickly retrieves it despite his guest’s warnings that the talisman is not to be trifled with. Mr. White ignores Morris’s warnings and keeps the monkey’s paw. Herbert then suggests asking for £200 as I wish to pay the mortgage. When making the wish, Mr. White feels the leg twist, but the money does not appear. Herbert mocks his father for believing that the paw might have magical properties.

The next day Herbert dies in an accident, mangled by being caught by a machine while working. The company denies responsibility in the accident, but offers the White family compensation of £200. A week after Herbert’s funeral, Mrs. White begs her husband to make another wish on the talisman, to ask it to bring her son back to life. When the couple hears a knock on the door, they realize that they don’t know in what state Herbert can return, after being buried for ten days. Desperate, Mr. White makes his last wish, and when Mrs. White answers the door, no one is there.

Questions to analyze the text

La pata de mono is a short text in which the writer plans to develop his objectives in a very small space. How do you reveal which characters are trustworthy and which may not be? Why did WW Jacobs choose a monkey’s paw as a talisman? Is there a symbolism associated with a monkey that is not associated with another animal? Is the central theme of the story simply about wishing for caution, or does it have broader implications?

  • This text has been compared to the works of Edgar Allan Poe. What is the work of Poe with which this text can be related? What works of fiction does The Monkey’s Paw evoke ?
  • How does WW Jacobs use omen in this text? Was it effective in creating a sense of dread, or did the text become melodramatic and predictable? Are the characters consistent in their actions? Are their characterizations fully developed?
  • To what extent is the setting essential to the story? Could it have happened elsewhere? What would have been the differences if the story had been set in the present day?
  • Monkey’s Paw is considered a work of supernatural fiction. Do you agree with the classification? Why? What do you think Herbert would have looked like if Mrs. White had opened the door before Mr. White made her last wish? Had she found Herbert alive on the doorstep?
  • Does the story end as you expected? Do you think the reader is supposed to believe that everything that happened was just a series of coincidences, or that there really were metaphysical forces involved?


david mitchell. The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs . The Guardian. Consulted November 2021.

The Monkey’s Paw. Story by Jacobs . Britannica. Consulted November 2021.