Q:

What is the rising action in "The Monkey's Paw"?

A:

Quick Answer

The rising action in "The Monkey's Paw" concerns the revelation and explanation of the paw and the growing tension following the first two wishes. Each of these moments is critical to the story and heightens the sense of dread of the horror that is to come.

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Full Answer

The story opens in a typical domestic setting with Mr. and Mrs. White and their adult son, Herbert, sitting in front of the fire playing chess. A visitor, Sergeant-Major Morris, arrives and tells them the story of a monkey's paw he found in India that grants its bearer three wishes. He hints, however, that the paw is evil and that the wishes always turn out badly, and after showing them the paw, he casts it into the fire. This first exchange sets the dark mood and background for what is to come.

Mr. White pulls the paw out of the fire and frivolously wishes for 200 pounds with which to pay for his house. The next day, an accident kills his son Herbert, and the worker's compensation amounts to exactly 200 pounds. This incident enhances the feeling of dread, as the reader understands that the paw's power is real and malevolent. The Whites grieve the loss of their son, and eventually, Mrs. White demands that Mr. White use the paw to return Herbert to life. Mr. White complies but realizes that as a result of being mutilated in the accident and lying in a grave for over a week, Herbert is sure to be a horrible, misshapen creature. There is a knock at the door. This is the point where the rising action hits its climax. As Mrs. White rushes to answer, Mr. White finds the monkey's paw and wishes his son dead again. The moral is that is dangerous to interfere with destiny.

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