By the end of the story, "The Most Dangerous Game," does Rainsford change his mind about hunting?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Most Dangerous Game" is an example of the slick, commercial short fiction that used to be published in magazines but has pretty much gone out of fashion because the people who read such escapist fiction now spend their leisure time watching television or playing video games instead. Editors of the magazines that published adventure-escapist stories had one rule in common. They thought that the major character should change as the result of his harrowing experiences. If he didn't change, then the experience couldn't have been very important or very hazardous. So commercial writers would take care to establish that the viewpoint character had changed by the end of the story, even though he might not appear to be much different to the reader. Sometimes the writer would even wind up with dialogue such as this:

"You've changed."

"Have I? Yes, you're right. I guess I have."

Is it really true that a person's character would be changed if he or she went through a really traumatic experience?

"The Most Dangerous Game" is just a superior work of slick fiction. It was published in onw the better class magazines which paid more money. They were printed on "slick" paper, as opposed to the "pulp magazines" which were printed on cheap paper and paid as little as one cent a word, whereas the "slicks" would pay around ten cents a word, and more to authors whose names had value in selling copies of the magazines. Most of the slick magazines that published short fiction have gone out of business or else converted to articles. Most of the pulp magazines have disappeared. There used to be whole rows of pulp magazines at drug stores, grocery stores, and news stands. There were westerns, mysteries, romances, true detectives, science-ficition, and others. Television changed all that. "The Most Dangerous Game" would definitely hCW gone to a slick magazine because of the good quality of the writing and the intriguing idea, but it is not serious literature. Readers identify with the hero because they keep wondering what they would do themselves if they were placed in the same perilous situation.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, after his experiences on Ship-Trap Island Sanger Rainsford has gained new perspectives about hunting.

  • In the exposition of the story while he and Whitney talk in anticipation of their hunting of the jaguar, Whitney remarks that as prey the beasts know the fear of pain and the fear of death, but Rainsford dismisses this observation as "nonsense."
  • After he falls overboard and washes up on Ship-Trap Island and is taken to the chateau of Gerneral Zaroff, Rainsford is appalled when his host explains what he means by "more dangerous game."
  • While he is involved in this "more dangerous game" as the prey, Rainsford learns what it is to be "a beast at prey" as he hides upon the limb of a tree; thus, he changes his attitude expresses earlier as "nonsense" and knows that those fears Whitney has mentioned are real:

Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror....He lived a year in a moment.

  • After leaping into the sea, Rainsford returns to the general's chateau when, as the general himself has reflected before retiring for the night, "his quarry escaped him."

This action of returning to confront Zaroff and his reaction after he kills the general--"He had never slept in a better bed"--indicate that Rainsford has changed. For, having learned how prey feel and having enjoyed the "most dangerous game," of hunting and killing Zaroff, Sanger Rainsford has, indeed, changed his mind about hunting.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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