On a dark night, the White family are waiting for a visitor. Mr. White and his son Herbert are playing chess. Ms. White is knitting by the fire.
Sergeant Major Morris arrives and entertains the family with tells. Mr. White reminds Morris of a strange monkey's paw he acquired in India. It was enchanted by an old fakir to grant three separate wishes. Mr. Whites wants the paw, but it causes too much trouble, Morris had told him.
Mr. White makes his first wish: he wished for a sum of two hundred pounds. There is a loud noise and the paw moves. The next day, the Whites receive a letter that said Herbert was caught in the machinery and killed. The company gave the Whites a 200 pound check.
Their wish came true, which shocked them, and also filled with sadness from losing their one and only son. Mrs. White really wants Mr. White to wish for their son to come back to life, which she persuaded him to do so. Mr. White makes the wish with the paw, and then there is suddenly knocking at the door.
The knocking keeps getting louder. Mrs. White wants to run to the door, but Mr. White stops her because he is afraid of what state Herbert is in due to the wickedness of the paw. Even after being told all this, Mrs. White runs to the door, but she can't reach the bolt. Mr. White searches for the paw.
Mr. White finds the paw right as Mrs. White slides back the bolt. Mr. White makes his final wish, then the knocking stops. Mrs. White opens the door, but there is nobody outside.