I need someone with much experience and knowlege on the literature piece to assist me with a few questions.
Experienced readers of literature know what's coming here almost from the beginning--just by reading the title. It doesn't take long for us to sense something dark and foreboding as we read; it takes Rainsford a bit longer to sense what might be ahead. The darkness and potential danger are so strong he can literally almost feel it--which is what Connell means by palpable.
Through his description of the night, the author also creates this sense of tangible evil. The night is described as moist and black. They could feel the night pressing in on them. They couldn't see anything in front of them, but they would soon be exposed to an evil they would never believe.
The passage to which "tangible" is used is spoken, not by Rainsford, but his companion on the ship, Whitney, with whom Rainsford converses in the night. In the exposition Whitney tells Rainsford that the "tough-minded old Swede" on the ship has told him that the island has an evil name among seafaring men and asked him, "Dont' you feel anything?"
The word tangible means capable of being touched; real or actual. When the old sailor senses the evil emanating from Ship-Wreck Island, Whitney becomes concerned because the Swede is tough-minded and would "go up to the devil himself and ask him for a light"; he is not one to be superstitous and must have sensed something real. Having created a credible hint of ensuing danger and evil, the author, Richard Connell, foreshadows what is to happen later in the narrative. He also characterizes Rainsford as skeptical of such premonitions--"Pure imagination" he tells Whitney. This skepticism later leads Rainsford into his becoming the "animal at bay" for General Zaroff in the "most dangerous" of games.
What does Rainsford mean by evil being "tangible"?