The Monkey’s Paw

by

W. W. Jacobs

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Mr. White Character Analysis

Mr. White is an old man who is tempted to alter fate and who suffers dire consequences as a (possible) result. Jacobs characterizes Mr. White as a man who cannot accept his own fate, whether it’s a chess game he knows he is going to lose because of a reckless move or his quiet life in a remote part of Britain compared to his friend Morris’s exciting adventures in India. At the beginning of the story, Mr. White lives a cozy, domestic life with his wife, Mrs. White, and his son, Herbert, who amusedly accept his father’s frustrated outbursts over his fate. Mr. White appears drawn to the power of the monkey’s paw, even though his son teases him about believing in the paw’s magic and Morris warns him of the consequences. By the end of the story, a grief-stricken Mr. White has learned the consequences of trying to alter fate. Mr. White’s progression from a content, if somewhat restless, family man to a childless man apathetic to his wife, shows how one should accept fate and not try to alter it through reckless or treacherous means, unless they want to lose what they hold dear. By the climax of the story, Mr. White himself seems to fully learn the consequences of tempting fate, as he fears that after wishing his son back alive, a mangled corpse will come to their home. Yet Mr. White’s relationship to reality is dubious throughout the story. He claims he sees the paw move on its own, but no other character verifies this. The tragedies that befall him could be a direct result of his wishing on the paw, but they could also just be coincidences that he subscribes supernatural meaning to because of his belief in fate-altering magic. Mr. White’s opaque, shifting relationship to reality shows the troubled state of mind one enters when they attempt to change destiny through supernatural means.

Mr. White Quotes in The Monkey’s Paw

The The Monkey’s Paw quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. White or refer to Mr. White. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Academy Chicago Publishers edition of The Monkey’s Paw published in 1997.
Part I Quotes

Without the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes.

Related Characters: Mr. White, Herbert White
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

“I don’t know what to wish for, and that’s a fact…It seems to me I’ve got all I want.”

Related Characters: Mr. White (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Monkey’s Paw
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Part II Quotes

“Morris said the things happened so naturally…that you might if you so wished attribute it to coincidence.”

Related Characters: Mr. White (speaker), Sergeant-Major Morris
Related Symbols: The Monkey’s Paw
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
Part III Quotes

But the days passed, and expectation gave place to resignation–the hopeless resignation of the old, sometimes miscalled, apathy. Sometimes they hardly exchanged a word.

Related Characters: Mr. White, Mrs. White
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

“He has been dead ten days, and besides he–I would not tell you else, but–I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?”

Related Characters: Mr. White (speaker), Mrs. White, Herbert White
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in.

Related Characters: Mr. White, Mrs. White
Related Symbols: The Monkey’s Paw
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side…The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.

Related Characters: Mr. White, Mrs. White
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Monkey’s Paw PDF

Mr. White Character Timeline in The Monkey’s Paw

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. White appears in The Monkey’s Paw. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
...blinds are drawn and the fireplace is burning inside the White family’s home, Laburnam Villa. Mr. White and his son, Herbert, are playing chess. Mr. White makes a daring move with... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Mr. White realizes, too late, that he is going to lose because of his mistake, so... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Mr. White suddenly begins angrily shouting about how the worst part of living in “out-of-the-way places”... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
The expected guest arrives and Mr. White introduces him to the others as Sergeant-Major Morris. Mr. White gives the guest some... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Mr. White says that Morris mentioned something about a monkey’s paw the other day, but Morris... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Mr. White asks whether, if Morris had three more wishes, he would use them again, and... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
...put much importance on the monkey’s paw, since Morris told many tall tales that night. Mr. White reveals, slightly embarrassed, that he made Morris take a small amount of money for... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Herbert suggests that Mr. White should wish for the money they need to pay off the mortgage on their... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Mr. White drops the paw and cries out, saying that he felt the paw twist in... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
After Mr. and Mrs. White go to bed, Herbert stays up, watching the fire. He sees faces... (full context)
Part II
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
...Morris’s tale of magic, and besides, she says, “how could two hundred pounds hurt you?” Mr. White says that “Morris said the things happened so naturally…that you might if you so... (full context)
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Industrialization Theme Icon
...means. After a long silence, the representative says that Herbert was “caught in the machinery.” Mr. White says that Herbert “was the only one left to us…It is hard.” (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Industrialization Theme Icon
...Herbert’s death, they can offer monetary compensation for his “services.” With a feeling of horror, Mr. White asks how much. The representative answers, “Two hundred pounds.” Mrs. White screams and Mr.... (full context)
Part III
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Industrialization Theme Icon
“In the huge new cemetery, some two miles distant,” Mr. and Mrs. White bury Herbert. They return to their house, which is now dark and... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
A week later, Mr. White wakes to find himself alone in bed. He finds Mrs. White standing by the... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Mr. White hesitates, saying that Mrs. White must be crazy, but she says that their first... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Horrified by the thought of “his mutilated son before him,” Mr. White finds the paw and brings it to Mrs. White. Her face, “white and expectant,”... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
A knock comes from the front door, shocking Mr. White. He hears another knock, and then another. Mrs. White sits up, asking what that... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Mr. White begs Mrs. White not to let “it” in. She breaks free from his grasp... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Mr. White hears the bolt opening at the exact same minute he finds the monkey’s paw.... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Mr. White hears Mrs. White cry out in “disappointment and misery” and he feels brave enough... (full context)