Mr. White, a character in the monkey’s paw, develops the theme “things are not always as they seem” throughout the short-story. To begin with, when Mr. White is initially introduced to the monkey’s paw, he sees it as an ordinary Indian souvenir. When Sergeant-Major Morris tells the Whites about India, he tells them of a paw that has special abilities but Mr. White doesn’t believe “And what is there special about it?” inquired Mr. White; as he took it from his son and having examined it, placed it upon the table. Mr. White is seeing the paw for the first time and he sees it as a piece of Indian culture without any of the magic Sergeant- Major Morris claimed to be attached to it. However, the reader understands that the paw is not ordinary because it has been cursed by a fakir and it has the power to cause serious problems for the users.
Pursuing this further, Mr. White claims to have everything he wants but ironically, he wants a better house. While trying to decide on what to wish for, Mr. White tells his family he has everything he wants but Herbert points out this is not so saying “If you only cleaned the house, you’d be quite happy, wouldn’t you?” said Herbert. Mr. White says he has everything he wants but Herbert White reminds him that he does not have the better house he wants which means he does not have everything he wants. The reality is that Mr. White, despite having a warm, loving and beautiful family is still not satisfied. He does not think of the protection and shelter the house provides for him and his family especially during the storm.
This greed makes Herbert able to manipulate his father into wishing for 200 pounds to make the house better. Finally, Mr. White believes the paw is a tool for granting happy wishes which stands in contrast to what the paw really is. Mr. White wishes for 200 pounds and regrettably, his wish is granted. A representative from Maw and Meggins arrives at the White’s house and says “I was to say that Maw and Meggins disclaim all responsibility”, continued the other. “They admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son’s services they wish to present you with a certain sum as compensation.”
Mr. White dropped his wife’s hand, and rising to his feet, gazed with a look of horror at his visitor. His dry lips shaped the words, “How much?” “Two hundred pounds”, was the answer. When Mr. White makes his wish, he simply thinks the paw would grant his wish magically and he would get wealthy and have everything he wished for. In contrast, when his wish is granted by the paw, it is granted as a compensation for the death of his only son. The paw did not bring his family happiness as he had thought, rather, it took away the joy, laughter, and happiness and brought sorrow, and guilt to what is left of their family. Also, the sorrow caused by the paw led to his death and that of his wife. In final consideration, the theme “things are not always as they seem” was developed by Mr. White throughout the short story.