High School Selection
This week we will be reading “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs. It was first published in 1902 and the story is set around that time in England. “The Monkey’s Paw” is a horror story and a cautionary tale about unintended consequences. Below are links to the text version of the story and the audio version of the story. The text version is nine pages and the audio version is about thirty minutes.
As you read the story consider what message the author is trying to relay to you. Do you agree with the author’s message? Would you tempt fate and use the monkey’s paw? Below the story links are links to other stories you may enjoy if you liked “The Monkey’s Paw”.
Questions to think about for “The Monkey’s Paw”
Are the Whites responsible for the bad things that happen to them, or are they helpless victims of fate, destined to suffer? Is it a combination of both? When we look closely at "The Monkey's Paw," it's full of questions about how much power people have over the direction of their lives.
This story is also about how we make choices. Think of Mr. White. He decides he wants to keep the paw, but it's Herbert who suggests the first wish, and Mrs. White his second one. He seems to make this second wish against his will. He knows it could be disastrous, but he does it anyway, either because he can't say no to his wife or because he wants to please her. His final wish, whatever it is, could be seen as a sign that his character is getting stronger. He is learning (rather late in the game), to take control of his life and to make good, careful choices on his own.
You may have noticed the monkey’s paw had three owners, three wishes, three people in the White family, and three knocks at the door. What does this do to contribute to the feeling of the story? Knowing what you do about the monkey’s paw, would you use it? Do you think the monkey’s paw was supernatural, or was it coincidence that caused the strange events? What do you think Mr. White’s final wish was? (Questions from Schmoop.com)
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