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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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In Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," what does superstition mean based on the way Whitney uses the word?

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In Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford is the one who uses the word "superstitious," not Whitney. Whitney uses the word "lore" to explain the feeling of the "poisonous" air that he senses as they pass by this particular island. After Whitney explains to Rainsford that passing by the same island once before left him with "a mental chill, a sort of sudden dread," Rainsford replies by saying the following:

"Pure imagination . . . One superstitious sailor can taint the whole ship's company with his fear."

Rainsford apparently does not believe in "lore" or "superstition," and he seems to shut Whitney down with this comment. However, Whitney continues to tell Rainsford what he means by saying the following:

"Maybe. But sometimes I think sailors have an extra sense that tells them when they are in danger. Sometimes I think evil is a tangible thing--with wavelengths, just as sound and light have."

Whitney clarifies what he means concerning superstition as a type of extra-sensory perception. He believes that evil is "tangible" matter that can be perceived by humans. Furthermore, just like sound and light travel through the air on wavelengths, Whitney believes that evil travels in much the same way. Therefore, Whitney doesn't think that a sailor's sense of evil can be categorized as superstition; rather, it is the sailor who perceives evil traveling through the air. When a sailor senses evil, it is because he is attuned to its travels on wavelengths. When something like this happens, then the sailor can be assured that he is being warned of danger.  

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