"I should hardly think that he'll come tonight..."
"I wish for two hundred pounds."
"Well, I don’t see the money; and I bet I never shall...”
“It’s my boy; it’s Herbert! I forgot it was two miles away."
“For God’s sake don’t let it in!!!"
In the beginning of the story Mr. White and Herbert are playing chess, while Mrs. White is knitting in the parlor of Laburnam Villa. The three of them are awaiting the arrival of Sergeant Major Morris. Due to the cold and rainy weather, they are beginning to think that he will not be visiting tonight.
Sergeant Major Morris arrives and tells the story of a monkey's paw that grants three wishes. He warns them not to keep it, but Mr. White ignores the man. They make a wish for 200 pounds, and the wish eventually comes in the form of compensation for Herbert's accidental death. After a week, Mrs. White makes a second wish for her son to be alive again; much to Mr. White's disapproval.
“Come back, You will be cold.”
“It is colder for my son..."
Soon after making their second wish (for their son to be alive again) there is a loud knocking on the door...Herbert has returned. Mrs. White is ecstatic, but Mr. White is frightened. He claims "He has been dead ten days, and besides he – I would not tell you before, but – I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?"
As Mrs. White, standing on a chair, struggles to unlock the door; Mr. White searches for the monkey's paw. His wife finally gets the latch unstuck and opens the door, and at the same time the knocking stops. When she opens the door, there is nothing there but darkness.
There is still one wish left...
“The top lock, I can’t reach it.”
The reader can assume that Mr. White made his third and final wish with the monkey's paw. He wished for his son Herbert to be dead again, and to rest in eternal peace.
There are three themes for this short story. The first is to be careful what you wish for. The second theme is to be happy with what you have in life. The final theme is to never mess with fate. There is an obvious conflict in this story of man vs. supernatural, with the monkey's paw having powers that ruin the families lives.