The Monkey’s Paw

by

W. W. Jacobs

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Morris is an old friend of Mr. White who has been a soldier abroad in India for 21 years. His fantastical stories of his travels show the allure of adventure in exotic places, adventures that Mr. White himself claims he would like to experience. Morris also brings the sinister monkey’s paw from India to Mr. White, which also shows how people at the time viewed objects from faraway places (particularly Britain’s colonies) with both suspicion and temptation. Morris himself has wished upon the paw and seems to regret it, showing the consequences of one who tempts fate. Still, when Mr. White asks him if he would take three more wishes if he could, he says, “I don’t know…I don’t know,” suggesting that even when one suffers from attempting to change their fate, the power can still be attractive enough for one to possibly try again. However, the reality of Morris’s stories is dubious. Both Herbert and Mrs. White remark that soldiers commonly tell fictional or exaggerated accounts of their adventures abroad, and the story of the paw’s origins and its supposed magic may be another tall tale. In fact, the narrative never definitively states whether or not the paw actually grants Mr. White’s wishes, so Morris’s claims that the paw can alter fate may indeed be false.

Sergeant-Major Morris Quotes in The Monkey’s Paw

The The Monkey’s Paw quotes below are all either spoken by Sergeant-Major Morris or refer to Sergeant-Major Morris. 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

“[The monkey’s paw] had a spell put on it by an old fakir…a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow.”

Related Characters: Sergeant-Major Morris (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Monkey’s Paw
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

He sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it. The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement.

Related Characters: Sergeant-Major Morris (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Monkey’s Paw
Page Number: 22
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:
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Sergeant-Major Morris Character Timeline in The Monkey’s Paw

The timeline below shows where the character Sergeant-Major Morris appears in The Monkey’s Paw. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I
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 whiskey and after three glasses, Morris entertains the Whites... (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 says that it’s “nothing... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
Morris says the paw “had a spell put on it by an old fakir…a very holy... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Herbert asks if Morris has had his three wishes. Morris says that he has, and his wishes really were... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
Mr. White asks whether, if Morris had three more wishes, he would use them again, and Morris says that he doesn’t... (full context)
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
After Morris leaves, Herbert says that the family shouldn’t put much importance on the monkey’s paw, since... (full context)
Part II
Fate vs. Freewill Theme Icon
The Uncertainty of Reality Theme Icon
Inside vs. Outside Theme Icon
...which betokened no great belief in its virtues.” Mrs. White remarks at the silliness of Morris’s tale of magic, and besides, she says, “how could two hundred pounds hurt you?” Mr.... (full context)