How does the author of "The Most Dangerous Game" use each of the two minor characters, Whitney and Captain Nielsen?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Whitney and Captain Nielsen are also travelling on the yacht with Sanger Rainsford when he falls overboard near Ship-Trap Island in Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game." Whitney is Rainsford's hunting partner, and the two are headed to South America for an upcoming expedition on the Amazon River. Whitney is used primarily for exposition, since his conversation with Rainsford gives the reader background information about their past. He also acts as a conscience for Rainsford.

     "The best sport in the world," agreed Rainsford. 
     "For the hunter," amended Whitney. "Not for the jaguar."
     "Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"
     "Perhaps the jaguar does," observed Whitney.
     "Bah! They've no understanding."
     "Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death."

Captain Nielsen does not actually appear in the story. The only mention of him comes when Whitney tells Rainsford of the captain's warning about the island.

     "...Those fishy blue eyes held a look I never saw there before. All I could get out of him was `This place has an evil name among seafaring men, sir.' Then he said to me, very gravely, `Don't you feel anything?'--as if the air about us was actually poisonous.

Nielsen, like Whitney, serves merely to advance the mysterious reputation of Ship-Trap Island and to set the stage for Rainsford's later adventure on the island.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

(4)  The world reknowned big game hunter Sanger Rainsford also proves to be a capable swimmer in Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game." Rainsford is sailing on a yacht toward his next destination, a hunting expedition on the Amazon River. Suddenly, a sound startles him--it is three gun shots--and he springs from his chair. As he strains through the darkness in hopes of seeing the cause of the shots, Rainsford boosts himself on the side rails for a better view. Bumping his pipe against a rope, it falls from his mouth. As he lunges for it, he loses his balance and falls from the ship.

     The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea dosed over his head.
     He struggled up to the surface and tried to cry out, but the wash from the speeding yacht slapped him in the face and the salt water in his open mouth made him gag and strangle. Desperately he struck out with strong strokes after the receding lights of the yacht, but he stopped before he had swum fifty feet. A certain coolheadedness had come to him; it was not the first time he had been in a tight place.

His curiosity over the gunfire and the love of his pipe caused Rainsford to react carelessly and put himself in a dangerous situation, a bad combination on board a ship at night.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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