The Monkey’s Paw By: W.W. Jacobs
The 5 parts of Plot A plot is the sequence of related events in a story. A typical plot revolves around a conflict, or a struggle between opposing forces, and follows a pattern. Exposition (or Introduction): The beginning of the story; background on the characters and situation. Rising Action: the bulk of the story; all the events that lead up to the climax. Climax: highest point of tension in the story; the outcome of the conflict is revealed. Falling action: all of the events following the climax. Resolution: the ending of the story; the wrap-up or happy ever after.
More Literature Vocabulary: Foreshadowing—giving details that hint at upcoming events. Prediction—a logical idea about what will happen.
The Big Question • Is there a difference between reality and truth? • In “The Monkey’s Paw,” a family learns the truth behind a mysterious monkey’s paw. • What different ways do people try to verify the truth?
Making Predictions • We learned with our vocabulary words that a talisman is a good luck charm. • “The Monkey’s Paw” is a suspense. • Make a prediction. What do you think The Monkey’s Paw is going to be about?
For your notes: • Draw a plot mountain and label the parts as we read the story together.
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsExposition: • The White family lives in a remote villa. The wife teases her husband as he loses a chess game with the son. A visitor comes to the house, Sergeant Major Morris, a friend of Mr. White’s who has been serving abroad in the military—possibly in India.
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsRising Action: • A fakir is a Muslim or Hindu holy man. • Fate is the power that determines the outcome of events before they occur. • What does “He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow” mean? • This line is foreshadowing what is to come for the Whites. What do you think is going to happen?
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsStop and Think: • What do these details reveal about Morris? • Morris’s sighs and gestures with his glass reveal that he is deeply uncomfortable talking about some of his experiences. • What do you think this says about his experience with the monkey’s paw?
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsStop and Think: • What does the Sergeant’s reaction tell us about the monkey paw. • What about the man who owned the monkey paw before the Sergeant?
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsStop and Think: • Do you find anything strange about Sergeant Morris’s behavior? • Why would he bring up the monkey’s paw if he doesn’t think the White’s should have it?
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsRising Action: • What does Mr. White wish for? • What do characters in stories about wishes usually learn? • They learn that human attempts to alter fate usually have dangerous and unpredictable consequences. • Do you think Mr. White’s wish will come true? If yes, how?
The Big Question • Myths are one example of people’s struggle to deal with questions about reality and truth. • Myths are retold by many people within a culture. The details may differ, but the main point remains the same. • Myths include supernatural events or ideas. Some people believe them; others do not. • There are often local stories. Individuals tell about experiences that “prove” the myth’s proof. • Can you name any myths that you have heard of?
The Big Question • Are the Whites acting as if they believe this myth is true? • Mr. and Mrs. White grow quiet. They may be worried about what will happen if the myth is true. Herbert speaks as if he thinks the myth is not true. • How do the characters demonstrate our desire to know the truth? • They wish they could be sure that the myth is either true or false. They are worried because they do not know what will happen.
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsStop and Think: • Write a summary of the story so far. • All of these events are part of the rising action on your plot mountain. • How does the conversation about the money foreshadow a problem? • During the discussion about the wish for 200 pounds, Mrs. White questions how the money could hurt her husband, and Herbert says that the money might drop on his father’s head from the sky; these comments foreshadow harm to Mr. White as a result of the wish. • Have you seen any other examples of foreshadowing so far? • The warnings that Sergeant Major Morris gives to the Whites, including the description of the man who wishes for death.
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsConflict in Literature: • Types of Conflict • Man vs. Man (external) • Man vs. Nature (or ‘supernature’) (external) • Man. Vs Society (external) • Man vs. Self (internal) What type of conflict is The Monkey’s Paw?
The Monkey’s Paw • We are still in the rising action portion of our plot mountain. • Remember, the rising action is the bulk of the story. • The tension is increasing and the conflict has been revealed. • If we haven’t reached the climax yet, what do you think will happen next?
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsRising Action: • The Whites received a monkey’s paw from the Sergeant. • Mr. White wishes for 200 pounds, enough money to pay off the mortgage on their home. • The next day, Herbert White, the son, dies in a work accident and the company pays Mr. and Mrs. White 200 pounds. • Describe the parent’s state of mind at this point in the story. • If you had the monkey’s paw, what would you do next?
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. JacobsRising Action: • Mr. and Mrs. White’s feelings about the monkey’s paw have begun to change. As we read, pay special attention to their attitude toward the paw. • Mrs. White, in her desperation, believes in the power of the paw but disregards the consequences of using it. Mr. White, on the other hand, no longer wants anything to do with the paw. • Why is Mr. White afraid of his wife? • Mr. White fears Mrs. White’s unnatural obsession with using the monkey’s paw to bring their son back. He is afraid of further consequences.
The Monkey’s Paw • At this point in the plot, the conflict has deepened to the point where the Whites are struggling with each other, as well as against the power of the paw. The conflict now also includes Man vs. Man. • The tension in the house is building to an almost unbearable level. The likelihood that the wish will come true but will have a terrible consequence, as Mr. White fears, builds the tension. The struggle of Mr. and Mrs. White over the wish also adds to the tension. • We have nearly reached the climax, the point at which the tension reaches its highest point, but we are still in the rising action of the story.
The Monkey’s Paw: Climax • What can you infer about Herbert’s location from Mrs. White’s statement, “I forgot it was two miles away”? • Mrs. White reasons that Herbert did not arrive at the house immediately after the wish was made because he had to travel from the cemetery where he was buried, which is two miles away from the house. • If Herbert is coming from the cemetery, what state will his body be in? • Reading Check: Why is Mr. White afraid? • Write down what you think is the climax of the story.
The Monkey’s Paw • The falling action and resolution happen in the last paragraph of the story. • Do the White’s believe that the monkey’s paw powers are true? • Does the author reveal the reality of the monkey’s paw?
Complete these sentences… • Mr. White’s initial perception of the sergeant major is… • Mr. White began to comprehend the effect of his first wish when… • The evidence Mr. and Mrs. White receive that the paw’s powers are real comes when… • The most improbable event from the story occurs when…
Create a plot mountain: • Create a plot mountain for The Monkey’s Paw • In the center, write the main characters, conflict and setting • Be sure to include all major points of the story from the exposition through the resolution, making note of literary elements such as foreshadowing and conflict.