The Monkey's Paw

"The Monkey's Paw" is a supernatural short story by author W. W. Jacobs, first published in England in the collection The Lady of the Barge in 1902.

Year Published:
1902
Author:
W.W. Jacobs

Part I opens on a dark and stormy night as the three members of the White family relax inside their cozy house. Herbert White and his father are playing a game of chess while Mrs. White knits near the fire. After his son wins, Mr. White complains about the terrible weather and nearly deserted road they live near.

A family friend, Sergeant-Major Morris, arrives for a visit. Over whisky, he tells stories of his exploits abroad. Mr. White expresses interest in going to India, but the sergeant-major says he would be better off staying at home. At Mr. and Mrs. Whites’ urging, Sergeant-Major Morris takes a small, mummified paw out of his pocket. He explains that a fakir (a mystic miracle worker) placed a spell on the paw to prove that people’s lives are governed by fate and that it is dangerous to meddle with fate.

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