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The Monkey's Paw by W. W. Jacobs

Teacher Guide by Kristy Littlehale

Find this Common Core aligned Teacher Guide and more like it in our High School ELA Category!

Student Activities for The Monkey's Paw Include:

Many tales have been told about people who tried to change the course of their lives by interfering with fate’s plans, and the dire consequences that result. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs examines how one man’s curiosity and desire to have more than he needs results in disastrous ramifications. Many students will already be familiar with similar wishing traditions, such as wishing upon a star, making a birthday wish, or throwing a coin into a fountain. While people often think of the possibilities of such wishes coming true, they don’t often think about the potential pitfalls that could happen instead. “The Monkey’s Paw” is a frightening tale that examines important themes such as what can happen when we try to interfere with fate, and the dangers of what happens when we follow our curiosity just a little too far. When fate’s plans get interrupted, it makes sure to restore that balance – at a price.

By the end of this lesson your students will create amazing storyboards like the ones below!




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Fate in Other Cultures

Fate is a concept that has been revered and feared in other cultures across the world. It has many different names:


Have students research some of the different ways fate/destiny has been depicted in other cultures, and the role fate plays in their folklore, religious observances, and daily life.


Essential Questions for “The Monkey’s Paw”

  1. Is life controlled by fate or free will?
  2. Why is it important to be satisfied with what we have?
  3. How can curiosity be dangerous?
  4. Why are people drawn to the unknown and magical possibilities?
  5. Why is it important to think about consequences before taking an action?

The Monkey's Paw Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

“The Monkey’s Paw” Summary


Copy Assignment



A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a story. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and helps students develop greater understanding of literary structures.

Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a work with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the story in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.



Example “The Monkey’s Paw” Plot Diagram

Exposition

On a dark, cold night at the Laburnam Villa, the White family is awaiting a visitor. Mr. White and his son Herbert are playing chess while Mrs. White knits by the fire. Sergeant Major Morris arrives and regales the family with tales from his 21 years of traveling to vast and exotic places in his tenure as a soldier.


Conflict

Mr. White reminds Morris of a story he was telling him recently regarding a strange monkey’s paw he acquired in India. It supposedly was bewitched by an old fakir to grant three separate men three wishes. Mr. White wants the paw, but Morris is reluctant, saying it causes trouble.


Rising Action

Morris throws the paw into the fire and Mr. White rescues it. Mr. White makes his first wish: he wishes for a sum of two hundred pounds (£200). Herbert makes a crashing sound on the piano and the paw moves. The next day, the Whites receive word that Herbert was caught in the machinery at work and killed. The company compensates the Whites with a check for £200.


Climax

The Whites are shaken by how their wish came true and filled with grief from losing their only son. Mrs. White persuades Mr. White to wish that Herbert was alive again. Mr. White finds the paw and makes the wish; all of a sudden, there is a quiet, persistent knocking at the door.


Falling Action

The knocking becomes louder. Mrs. White wants to run to the door, frantic to let Herbert in, but Mr. White holds her back because knows the wickedness of the paw and is afraid of what kind of “state” Herbert might be in. She breaks free and runs to the door, but she can’t reach the bolt. Mr. White searches hurriedly for the paw.


Resolution

Just as his wife gets a chair, climbs up, and slides back the bolt, Mr. White finds the paw and makes his final wish. The knocking suddenly stops. Mrs. White opens the door, but there is no one outside.



The Monkey's Paw Plot Diagram
Create your own at Storyboard That EXPOSITION CONFLICT RISING ACTION CLIMAX FALLING ACTION RESOLUTION On a dark, cold night at the Laburnam Villa, the White family is awaiting a visitor. Mr. White and his son Herbert are playing chess while Mrs. White knits by the fire. Sergeant Major Morris arrives and regales the family with tales from his 21 years of traveling to vast and exotic places in his tenure as a soldier. Mr. White reminds Morris of a story he was telling him recently regarding a strange monkey’s paw he acquired in India. It supposedly was bewitched by an old fakir to grant three separate men three wishes. Mr. White wants the paw, but Morris is reluctant, saying it causes trouble. Morris throws the paw into the fire and Mr. White rescues it. Mr. White makes his first wish: he wishes for a sum of two hundred pounds (£200). There’s a loud crashing noise and the paw moves. The next day, the Whites receive word that Herbert was caught in the machinery at work and killed. The company compensates the Whites with a check for £200. The Whites are shaken by how their wish came true and filled with grief from losing their only son. Mrs. White persuades Mr. White to wish that Herbert was alive again. Mr. White finds the paw and makes the wish; all of a sudden, there is a quiet, persistent knocking at the door. The knocking becomes louder. Mrs. White wants to run to the door, frantic to let Herbert in, but Mr. White holds her back because knows the wickedness of the paw and is afraid of what kind of “state” Herbert might be in. She breaks free and runs to the door, but she can’t reach the bolt. Mr. White searches hurriedly for the paw. Just as his wife gets a chair, climbs up, and slides back the bolt, Mr. White finds the paw and makes his final wish. The knocking suddenly stops. Mrs. White opens the door, but there is no one outside.