Interestingly, there is a certain mystery about Ship-Trap Island from the beginning of Connell's riveting short story with Whitney's allusion to "that island" which the captain of the ship, Nielsen , a "tough-minded old Swede" who declares it a "place [that] has an evil name among seafaring men." One evening when Nielsen asks Whitney if he does not feel something, Whitney admits to noticing that there was no breeze and the sea looks as flat as glass. He himself feels "a mental chill, a sort of sudden dread."
While Rainsford dismisses Whitney's sense of the ominous, he stays on deck and, unfortunately, falls over only to find himself upon the shores of the sinister island. And, after Ivan finds him and leads him to the chateau of General Zaroff, Rainsford learns what Ship-Trap Island really is. Zaroff explains how he lures sailors to his island: He uses lights to "indicate a channel where there is none." As the misled ship enters the area, it knocks against razor-sharp rocks, sinking the vessel and stranding the sailors.
This Island is the means by which the general recruits his "game" that he hunts. First, the sailors are placed in a "training school" in the cellar of the chateau. Then, they are set out on the island and given a head start for the general to later hunt them in his "most dangerous game" since, he declares, “the weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure.”