Can someone tell me what is the narrative hook of "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The term "narrative hook" was given that name by writers and editors because it was the element in the story that "hooked" the reader's interest and motivated him to continue reading until the end. "The Most Dangerous Game" is a strange story about a man who owns a private island and likes to hunt human beings because, as he says, they are the most dangerous game. The narrative hook would have to come when General Zaroff makes it clear to his guest Rainsford that he intends to hunt him. The hook comes at the point where Zaroff, who has been treating Rainford like an important guest, makes his intention known.

He filled Rainsford's glass with venerable Chablis from a dusty bottle.

"Tonight," said the general, "we will hunt--you and I."

Rainsford shook his head. "No, general," he said. "I will not hunt."

The general shrugged his shoulders and delicately ate a hothouse grape. "As you wish, my friend,: he said. "The choice rests entirely with you. But may I not venture to suggest that you will find my idea of sport more diverting than Ivan's?"

Rainsford has already learned that Zaroff hunts humans for sport. He has also been told by the general that if a captive refuses to play his game by running for his life, the polite but sadistic host forces him to make a choice.

"Suppose he refuses to be hunted?"

"I give him his option, of course. He need not play theĀ  game if he doesn't wish to. If he does not wish to hunt, I turn him over to Ivan. Ivan once had the honor of serving as official knouter [flogger] to the Great White Czar, and he has his own ideas of sport."

But the actual hook does not come until this line:

"Tonight," said the general, "we will hunt--you and I."

Everything up to that poiint is only introductory exposition. There was a lot of explaining to be done, including an account of Rainsford's background and reputation and an account of how General Zaroff acquired this island and the mansion on it. Now at last Rainsford learns that his life is in danger and that he has to play the general's game by the general's rules.

The reader, of course, wants to know what happens. Will Rainsford manage to get away from this cordial madman? If so, how? The protagonist (Zaroff) and the antatonist (Rainsford) are evenly matched. Both are experienced hunters. Zaroff can anticipate everything Rainsford might attempt to do, and vice versa. It is a dangerous game for each of these men. Zaroff craves excitement. Rainsford merely wants to save his own life.

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