Lesson Plan

Plot and Conflict in W. W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw"

Grade Levels

9th Grade

Course, Subject

Related Academic Standards


Exposition- when the author is introduced to characters, setting and background information.

Narrative Hook- when the author 'catches' the reader with the story's conflict.

Rising Action- when the conflict begins to grow, develop or become more involved.

Climax- the turning point of the story.

Falling Action- when the conflict begins to be resolved.

Resolution- when the conflict is solved.

Conflict- a problem.

Internal Conflict- a problem inside of a person.

External Conflict- a problem with a person's surroundings.


  • Students will be able to recognize the parts of plot.
  • Students will be able to take the story's events and place them onto a plot line.
  • Students will be able to determine the type of conflict in the story and how/if it can be resolved.



Lesson Essential Question(s)

What is the climax, or turning point, of this story?

What is the difference between an internal and external conflict?

What types of conflict can be found in this short story?


Approximately 45 minutes.


Computer/Internet access

Overhead projector and screen (or Smart Board)

A copy of W. W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw"

Composition books for journal entries

Plot Diagram: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/plot-diagram-30040.html

Conflict Chart:http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/printouts/LiteraryElements.pdf

Suggested Instructional Strategies

W: During this lesson, students will be able to recognize the six parts of plot in W. W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw" and place them onto their plot diagrams. Students will also be able to determine the type of conflict in the story and decide how/if it can be resolved.

H: Students will be immediately hooked and engaged throughout the lesson because they will be tying in their own personal experiences when talking about conflict through their journals.

E: Students will closely examine the six main story events in "The Monkey's Paw", match up each story event with the correct part of plot, and place the events on the plot diagram. Students will also identify the internal and external conflicts in the story and determine how/if they can be resolved.

R: Students have previously learned about and discussed the six different parts of plot and the two types of conflicts. Whole class discussion and collaborative pair deliberation of the "Monkey's Paw" story events will offer insight into what the students actually grasp and understand, and what might need to be revisited.

E: Students will express their understandings and engage in meaningful self-evaluation through class discussion, peer deliberation, and the journal writing exercise.

T: Students will have worked orally (class discussion) and in written form (plot diagram, conflict chart, journals). Discussion will be done as whole, peer deliberation in partners, and journal writing individually.

O: The lesson begins with the teacher directing the students to the six main events of the story. The students, themselves, then have to determine which story event matches up with which part of plot. The students must also determine the type of conflict(s) and take part in individual journal writing.

Instructional Procedures

1. This activity assumes that students have already been taught the parts of plot in previous lessons. Upon students' arrival, teacher should distribute plot diagrams--'Narrative Hook' should be added in where the second part of plot belongs--and review the definitions for each part of plot. (http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/plot-diagram-30040.html)

2. On the overhead projector screen will display six events from W. W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw". The events will be listed randomly and not in chronological order. The teacher will explain that each of the events listed is important to the outcome of the story. A simple list of events or incidents alone does not constitute a 'plot'. The events must be significant rather than a simple series of things that happen.

Events: Chess game & tale of the monkey's paw; Mr. White snatches the paw from the fire; Wish #1, Herbert's death, & wish #2; Knocking & wish #3; Mrs. White pulls back the bolt & opens the door; Knocking ceases.

3. Students should pull out their copies of W. W. Jacob's "The Monkey's Paw" and buddy up with a partner. Together they will match up each story event with the correct part of plot (Exposition, Narrative Hook, etc). Then they will determine where the story's events fall on their plot diagrams and write them in (Example: The Exposition is the chess game and tale of the Monkey's Paw at Mr. and Mrs. White's house; The Narrative Hook is when Mr. White snatches the Monkey's Paw from the fire; etc). After partner work is complete, students can share their plot diagrams with a neighboring group to ensure their answers are correct.

 4. Next, students will focus on the story's conflict. (*This assumes that students have already been taught about conflict in previous lessons.) Using the conflict chart, students will identify the internal (man vs self: Mr. and Mrs. White deciding within themselves what to wish for, or deciding whether to keep making wishes) and external conflicts (man vs man: Mr. White vs. Mrs. White; man vs nature: The Whites vs the storm outside) in the story, and determine how/if they can be resolved. (http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/printouts/LiteraryElements.pdf)

 5. Finally, students will go back to their seats and think of both an internal and external conflict they've faced in their lives. They will then write a brief journal entry about what happened and how/if the conflict was able to be resolved. When completed, student may share their journal entries with the rest of the class on a voluntary basis.

Formative Assessment

  • Plot diagram comparison/discussion
  • Conflict chart response/discussion
  • Journal entries
  • Formal assessment at culmination of unit

Related Materials & Resources

Special Adaptations/Differentiated Instruction:



Date Published

March 23, 2010
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