Short Story #3 – The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs

The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs

Onto The Monkey’s Paw! They are expecting someone to come to their house, but the roads are terrible because they are isolated. Sounds rather spooky and horror movie like. While they are waiting, the man and son are playing chess, and the father is playing rather riskily. It is quite interesting that the names of nearly all the characters are introduced, quite often names in short stories are forgotten because they take up valuable words. A sergeant-major is in their house, what do they owe the pleasure of his company? Oooh, the ‘monkey’s paw’ a bit of magic from India, because this sergeant-major has traveled to far lands, and experienced different cultures, to these poor people stuck in their own little town. I honestly would hate to live in those times because of the inability to quickly travel from place to place, least of all traveling overseas and experiencing other cultures, but it would be nice to live in simpler times, stress-free and without all our modern crap.

So the sergeant-major has the magical dried monkey’s paw in his pocket. I am now wondering if this is a similar story to one that was told by The Simpsons at one point, wikipedia will know the answers. Wikipedia indeed agrees with me, The Simpsonshave done a story, a Halloween special, in fact featuring this tale. The exact details of the episode thankfully allude me, I’m sure the actual tale is much more interesting and more accurate. Fakir? I’m unfamiliar with that word, and Merriam Webster says it is a Muslim mendicant (practically a beggar, why they couldn’t say that I have no idea) : dervish or an itinerant Hindu ascetic or wonder-worker (which doesn’t help all that much, WHY do dictionaries insist on giving us definitions that include words that require us to look up another definition, is it some trick to make us use the dictionaries for longer or something?) So practically some beggar, who obstains from things to become ‘enlightened’ or something.

But enough definitions, the whole point of this paw is to show men that their lives are governed by fate, interesting idea, and that you can’t go against it and if you do you practically will die. 3 men, can have 3 separate wishes, these will NOT end well at all! Woah, one guy had two wishes, and his last wish was for death, presumably because he wanted to escape his wishes. So this guy has had his wishes, but he is alive and fine, why? So he wants to get rid of it, but White wants the damn thing, I bet this sergeant never wished anything! Wishes NEVER end well, something always goes wrong, even sensible wishes! So the man tells more stories, and then leaves, again telling White to burn the paw. Now, they discuss what to wish for, a suggestion of being an emperor, is knocked back. Interesting that one of them says that they will be rich, famous and happy, right cause money and fame totally go with happiness.But White says he has everything he wants, but then is convinced to wish for 200 pounds. Nothing much happens, except White is frightened by the paw moving or something, spooky!

“How could 200 pounds hurt you?” You’d be surprised what money can do to people! Look at lottery winners, most of them are unhappy and plenty of their families are in ruin because of greed. Who is the man hovering out the front of the house, are they somehow getting the money? Don’t tell me the kid died, and the 200 pounds is repayment or something. And I was right! Well the paw does work in mysterious ways, it punishes everyone, he should BURN IT NOW!

Is this going to be so predictable that the wife will wish for her son back (sure is)? SHE IS MAD!!!! Wishing the dead alive again is a terrible idea! The husband raises a good point that he was killed by being caught in the machinery and is quite disfigured and he could hardly recognise him, so what would he look like if he was revived! I’m sure it hasn’t failed, it took a while last time, don’t these silly people remember anything! They are truly fools! Oh dear, what the hell is at the door! But never fear the woman can’t reach the top bolt and therefore can’t quite open the door quick enough. Then the man decides to wish again to remove the ‘thing’ outside the door. Then the wife opens the door only to find nothing.

Did the second wish work at all? Or were they all crazy and imagined it all? I was nearly expecting them to all end up dead in the end, good thing it wasn’t SOOOOOO predictable. Again it has a nice theme and message, that ‘fate rules people’s lives’ and you would be foolish to try and interfere with it. I’m guessing he is saying that by wishing for something, you are going against fate and therefore will be punished. It is quite an interesting tale!

The next short story on my list is Stephen Vincent Benet’s The Devil and Daniel Webster!


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