The Monkey’s Paw CommonLit Answers Key

“The Monkey’s Paw” is a classic short story that delves into the themes of fate, destiny, and the inherent dangers of tampering with the natural order of things. Written by W.W. Jacobs, this tale revolves around the White family, who come into possession of a seemingly magical monkey’s paw that grants its holder three wishes. However, as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that every wish comes with unforeseen consequences.

Story Overview

Set in the cozy parlor of Laburnam Villa, the story begins with Mr. White and his son, Herbert, engrossed in a game of chess. Their game is interrupted by the arrival of Sergeant-Major Morris, a friend who has recently returned from his travels in India. As the evening progresses, Morris shares tales of his adventures, eventually revealing the existence of a peculiar artifact – a dried monkey’s paw. This paw, he claims, has the power to grant three wishes to its possessor. However, he warns of the grave consequences that accompany each wish.

Despite Morris’s warnings, Mr. White becomes intrigued by the paw’s potential and acquires it. The family, half in jest, makes their first wish, only to realize that the paw’s powers are real and come with a heavy price.

Key Themes and Insights

  1. The Perils of Tempting Fate: The story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of trying to alter one’s destiny. The White family’s wishes, though seemingly harmless, lead to tragic outcomes, emphasizing that fate should not be tampered with.
  2. The Unpredictability of Desires: Often, what we desire may not bring the happiness or outcomes we anticipate. The White family’s wishes, driven by curiosity and later desperation, highlight the unforeseen repercussions of our choices.
  3. The Relentlessness of Reality: No matter how much one might wish to alter or escape reality, it has a way of asserting itself. The story underscores the idea that certain events and outcomes are inevitable, regardless of our attempts to change them.

Thought-Provoking Questions:

  1. The Nature of Wishes: What does the story suggest about the nature of human desires and the potential dangers of getting what we wish for?
  2. Morality and Consequences: How does the story explore the moral implications of our actions and the inevitable consequences that follow?
  3. The Power of Belief: To what extent do the events of the story hinge on the characters’ belief in the power of the monkey’s paw? Would the outcomes have been different if they had dismissed it as mere superstition?

In Conclusion:

“The Monkey’s Paw” is a timeless tale that resonates with readers across generations. Its exploration of fate, destiny, and the human tendency to wish for more serves as a reminder of the age-old adage: “Be careful what you wish for.” Through its gripping narrative and profound themes, the story prompts readers to reflect on their desires and the lengths they might go to achieve them.


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