The Monkey’s Paw Summary by W.W. Jacobs

A Horror Story

This is a horror story that has a tinge of superstition and mystery to it. The paw belongs to a British officer named Morris who visits his friends, the Whites, in England. The Whites are an old couple with an adult son named Herbert.

The family welcomes Morris and entertains him lavishly. Morris, on the other hand, regales (entertains) them with the tales of adventure during his stay in the subcontinent of British India.

He narrates his encounters with a sage who had given him a cursed paw of a monkey. The paw has a legend of woe and magic behind it. It can grant any three wishes but at unpredictable personal expenses.

The Whites Desire to Use Paw

He laments his own use of the paw and confesses his fear of selling to someone else. The Whites are intrigued by the story and decide to take it off Morris’s hands. Morris advises them to be really cautious and intelligent with what they decide to wish.

After seeing the guest, the Whites discuss the various things they can wish for. Herbert is practical and advises to pay off the house debt of 200 pounds. Both Mr. and Mrs. White agree and Mr. White eventually asks for the money.

However, they are disappointed as no notable changes occur and decide to go off to bed. Herbert stays behind to warm himself before the fireplace. Suddenly, he imagines a scary monkey looking at him through the flames.

He is startled and extinguishes the fire, accidentally touching the paw in the process. The next morning Hebert goes off to work and the Whites get on with their lives.

A Devastating News

Sometime later, they get a visitor which makes them excited and expectant (eager). However, he delivers the tragic news of their son being butchered in a factory accident.

He offers them compensation equal to the amount they had wished for the previous night. The couple is devastated to lose their young son and only heir.

After several days, we find the couple still trying to cope with their loss. Mrs. White cannot stop wailing and Mr. White tries to put on a brave face for his family. Growing desperate, Mrs. White asks her husband to use the paw again to resurrect their son from the dead.

The Second Wish

Mr. White knows the price of such a move could even more devastating but cannot disappoint his wife. He takes the paw and wishes the same. Suddenly, there’s a knock at the front door. However, Mr. White is too afraid to open it and rushes back to bed.

The knocking continues and Mrs. White sprints to open it. Caught in a very difficult place, Mr. White grabs the paw and mutters his third wish. Without knowing what the third wish, his wife opens up the front gate only to see no one there.

The vacant porch suggests that Mr. White had finally realized the grave consequences of playing with fate and asked his dead son to not be resurrected.