2. [H]e found the monkey’s paw, and frantically breathed his third and last wish. The knocking ceased suddenly . . . a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side, and then to the gate beyond. The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.
The ambiguity of these final lines makes it possible to read “The Monkey’s Paw” as something other than a horror story or cautionary tale. We never see Herbert’s walking corpse with our own eyes, and neither do Mr. White, who is cowering upstairs, or Mrs. White, who cannot manage to open the door in time. One could therefore argue that the monkey’s paw holds no power at all and that Herbert would have died had Mr. White never even made the wish. The frantic knocking at the door is perhaps someone else entirely who goes away just as Mr. White makes his third wish. The plausibility of this interpretation adds a new dimension to “The Monkey’s Paw,” making it more than just another horror story.