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What is a summary of "The Monkey's Paw?"

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Quick Answer

"The Monkey's Paw," a short story by W.W. Jacobs, tells the story of a family that receives the mummified paw of a monkey from a guest, who tells them that whoever possesses the monkey's paw gets three wishes. However, when they try to use the wishes, there are horrible consequences.

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Full Answer

In the beginning of the tale, a sergeant-major who has recently returned from India is visiting Mr. and Mrs. White and their son Herbert. He tells them of the three wishes and shows them the paw, but then throws it into the fire. Mr. White pulls it out, and the sergeant-major warns of bad consequences for anyone who uses it. After the sergeant-major leaves, Mr. White wishes for 200 pounds to pay off the house. The next day, the couple's son Herbert is killed in an accident at work, and the company pays the couple 200 pounds in compensation. After Herbert's funeral, Mrs. White insists that Mr. White wish for their son to come back to life. Soon afterwards, they hear a knock at the door. Mrs. White rushes to answer it, but Mr. White finds the paw and wishes their son away again, knowing that after ten days in the grave he would look hideous. When Mrs. White opens the door, there is no one there.

"The Monkey's Paw" was first published in the short story collection "The Lady of the Barge" in 1902. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, W.W. Jacobs is best known in literature for this horror story.

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