Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs

I remember, when I read "The Monkey's Paw," as a young student, coming away with a deep sense of discontent, dissatisfaction.

Upon rereading it as an adult, I wonder if it is the sparing form of the story that left me unfulfilled. Or if I was too young, not yet worldly enough for my imagination to complement Jacobs' sparse language, his minimal scenes.

And speaking of language, I just now had to look up the word antimacassar, so surely I didn't know it then. I wonder what other words my young reading mind leaped to finish the story and if this didn't contribute to my unsettled feelings about the piece, my certainty that I wasn't quite getting it.

Or maybe, at that youthfully optimistic age, I just wasn't ready to hear that wishes fulfilled aren't wonderful things; or that those who wish for more than their lot are worthy of chastising (by the author) or horrid punishment (by fate.) I think, maybe this was a part of it. I remember feeling guilty; I've always been a wisher.

But, also, I remember feeling like I was missing something, and only now have I got my finger on it, the piece that is open to interpretation; the same piece my English teacher didn't interpret for me; the bit about coincidence. And superstition.

"'Morris said the things happened so naturally,' said his father, 'that you might if you wished attribute it to coincidence.'"

The White's never opened their door opened to reveal their mangled and rotting son on the front stoop, leaving the story itself rather wide-open.

So, maybe wishes aren't such horrible things after all, I'm thinking--and suddenly I love this story. And I'm a bit miffed with my old English teacher for omitting to delve into this imperative aspect of the story;, the best part in my opinion; that which makes "The Monkey's Paw" a classic.   .

"The Monkey's Paw" by W. W. Jacobs

A bit of trivia: It's said that Stephen King modeled Pet Semetary after this horror classic.

W. W. Jacobs

No comments:

Post a Comment