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Miss Raetz

Freshman Lit.
Miss Raetz
Consequences from Wishing
Often when given the chance to have any wish come true, people wish for grandeur. It
seems that people can always think of something that they dont have that they feel they need
above everything else. This same mindset was seen within the White family in W. W. Jacobs
short story The Monkeys Paw. When given the opportunity to wish for three things, Mr.
White, due to his sons suggestion, saw his chance to take the easy way out of debt and wished
for 200 pounds. Little did he know, his wish would have some pretty serious consequences the
death of his son, Herbert. After Herbert died, Mr. White, upon his wifes insistence, wished for
his son to be alive again. However, the story ends before Mr. Whites second wish comes true
or does it? Jacobs wrote the resolution of The Monkeys Paw so that the reader needed to infer
Mr. Whites final action. In the resolution, Herbert is wished dead again because Mr. White uses
his third wish, Mr. White has the knowledge that the monkeys paw leads to terrible
consequences, and he is afraid of how Herbert will look when raised from the dead.
To begin with, Mr. White uses the monkeys paw for a third time to wish Herbert dead
again. The last action the reader sees Mr. White doing is holding the paw and moving his lips:
He picks up the monkeys paw from the floor and holds it up in his right hand. His lips move,
but we cant hear him over the thunderous knocking (195). Although it is so noisy that you
cannot hear what Mr. White is saying, the reader can infer that he is using the paw to make a
wish. It was seen earlier in the story that Mr. White needed to hold the paw in order to make a
wish. When making his first wish for 200 pounds, Mr. White holds up the paw as Herbert taps
a drum roll on the table with his hands (190). By repeating the action of holding up the paw it
becomes clear that Mr. White is using the paw for his third wish.
Second, Mr. White knows that when used the monkeys paw leads to terrible
consequences. When the White family is first introduced to the monkeys paw by Sergeant
Morris, he discusses how past people used the paw to make wishes. It is clear through his sad
tone of voice and unwillingness to discuss the paw that he does not have positive feelings toward
the paw. This becomes even clearer when he takes the paw, dangles it between his finger and
thumb, then suddenly throws it into the fire (189). By throwing it into the fire, Morris is not
only telling the Whites but also the readers that the monkeys paw is not something you want to
have around. Not only does he try to get the paw away from the Whites, but he tries to eliminate
the paw forever by burning it. This would mean that no one in the future would have an
opportunity to use the paw again. This suggests that Morris certainly sees the paw as something
that needs to be rid from the earth. With such negative feelings toward the paw, it is clear that
the paw is bad and must lead to terrible consequences. In addition to throwing the paw away,
Sergeant Morris explains that the first owner had three wishes, yes. I dont know what the first
two were for, but the third was for death (189). When explaining that the last person to make a
wish wished for death, it becomes clear that paw can only lead to bad things. People do not wish
for death unless their life has turned into something that they can no longer handle. Certainly it
can be inferred that the previous two wishes of that person lead to a life that they can no longer
handle. Through Sergeant Morris behavior and explanations, it is clear that when used the
monkeys paw can only lead to negative consequences for the wisher.
Lastly, Mr. White has a great fear for how Herbert will look when he is raised from the
dead. Knowing now that wishes upon the monkeys paw rarely occur how you hope them to
after what happened when Mr. White wished for 200 pounds, one cannot help but wonder what
will go wrong when Mr. White wishes for his son to be alive again. While one can assume his
son will rise from the dead, one has to wonder in what condition Herbert will come, especially
after Mr. Whites description: Hes been dead ten days, and besidesI didnt want to tell you
this, but I could only recognize him by his clothes. He was mangled in the machinery. If he was
too terrible for you to see then, how would it be now? (193) When making the second wish, Mr.
White never stated how he wanted his son to be alive again. It is most likely his son will arrive
physically mangled and zombie-esque. In addition, Mr. White, during the final scene when
Herbert is knocking at the door after the second wish is made, no longer refers to his son as a
human, but instead refers to Herbert as an it: [Mr. White] Dont let it in. [Mrs. White] How
can you be afraid of your own son? Let me go (194). By referring to his son as an it, it is
clear that Mr. White does not believe the person (or thing) knocking at the door is really his son
but merely something that resembles his son. Clearly, he is afraid of how his son with look when
his wife opens the door, so he wishes his son dead again.
In conclusion, Mr. White makes his final wish on the monkeys paw to wish his son,
Herbert, dead again. His decision to make this final wish was based off his knowledge that when
wished upon the monkeys paw leads to negative consequences and his fear for the way Herbert
will come back after being dead for over a week. W. W. Jacobs did a nice job of dispersing
foreshadowing clues throughout his short story, so that his readers can infer the resolution.
Through the inference made, it is clear that people need to be careful for what they wish for as
wishes rarely turn out how they want them to. People need to be happy with what they have
because the alternative could be so much worse.