Consider the conversation aboard the yacht at the beginning of Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game." What part of it is planned to awaken the readers' curiosity and fear concerning the island?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The initial conversation in Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" takes place on a ship as it passes a nearby island. Whitney talks to Rainsford and uses language and superstition to create a sense of "curiosity and dread" in the readers, though Rainsford appear relatively unmoved.

Whitney associates the island with "mystery" and reveals the name--"Ship-Trap Island"--along with the fact that sailors, a hardened lot, have a "curious dread" of the place. Neither man can see the island because of the "thick warm blackness" of this tropical night, and the men's conversation turns to hunting and the hunted. Soon, however, Whitney is back to his description of the island. 

He reminds Rainsford that the crew was a "bit jumpy" today and reveals that the most hardened sailor on board the ship says this island has an "evil name." It is a "God-forsaken place" which has earned a place in the lore and legends of experienced sailors (a lore which include pirates, superstitions, and omens, among other things). In fact, Whitney creates such a vivid word-picture of the island's reputation that Rainsford asks if cannibals live there (though he seems more hopeful than frightened). Again Whitney uses words like "superstitious" and "fear" before he finally reveals that he, too, felt  "a--a mental chill; a sort of sudden dread" as they sailed past the island.

Connell's use of language and his references to superstition and evil are evident throughout the entire opening conversation of this story, and those two elements are clearly designed to create a sense of mystery and dread (curiosity and fear) for the readers which foreshadows the events which follow. In contrast, Rainsford seems relatively unmoved by Whitney's description; however, he will soon have reason to remember Whitney's words.

 

 

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