Do you think the author is trying to teach a lesson in the story The Most Dangerous Game?Do you think the author is trying to teach a lesson in the story The Most Dangerous Game?

9 Answers | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I agree with the above, and I also feel that the author is sending the message that not all people think alike.  We often wonder about the nature of good and evil.  Is a person who does not feel evil?  Or is there no such thing as evil?  It could be that we are the ones who are wrong, that we place value on human lives above those of animals.  Either we accept that we are no better than animals, or we accept Zaroff's philosophy.

auntlori's profile pic

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

Posted on

I'm sorry your teacher felt the need to limit you to one view, because the best stories in literature are those which have depth and layers of meaning.  That often means multiple themes and ideas to explore and ponder.  The direct answer to your questions are yes, there can certainly be more than one theme for a story.  Which theme is more precise is a great question, but perhaps it would be easier to answer this question:  how does one decide which theme is the most dominant?  The answer to that is simple--reader's choice.  It's true that there are generally a few lesser themes in a story like this, such as:  people to whom cruel things have been done are often eager to do cruel things (I'm thinking of Ivan, of course). While that may be true, I'm not sure you could make the case that it's a central theme for the story.  If, however, the theme is intimately connected to both the plot and one or more of the main characters, it seems to me you can make the case that it's a primary theme. 

You're in a difficult position here, and I applaud the diplomacy of your question.  I'm wondering if, the next time something like this comes up, you'd be able to ask your teacher how to determine the primary theme.  If you aren't argumentative or confrontational, a question like that should open up a dialogue.  I'm certain you aren't alone, so take heart.  Teachers care about being right just as much as the next person, but they also want young people with valid questions to think independently and to question in order to learn.  Best of luck!

ask996's profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

I agree that Rainsford grew and changed through the story. He was the most dynamic character as he went from thinking hunted animals really had no feelings to actually experiencing the fear of being the hunted. However, I've always wondered at the wonderful cryptic nature of the last part of the story "He never slept better" I think that's it, but I've always wondered what comes next for Rainsford.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I have to agree with #2 - one of the definite messages of this story seems to be concerning the relationship between the "game" and the hunter - Rainsford begins the story quite arrogantly, but by the end of the story after his titanic struggle with Zaroff you definitely get the impression that his experiences have causes him to re-assess his earlier statement. Perhaps now he will have a healthier respect for the "game" that he hunts.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

How many times have people heard the self-righteous decry an act that they "would never do"?

When Rainsford dines with General Zaroff, the general tells of his deadly and dangerous hunt: 

"Why should I not be serious?  I am speaking of hunting."

"Hunting?  General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder."

"I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life.  Surely your experiences in the way--"

"Did not make me codone cold-blooded murder," finished Rainsford stiffly.

Not too long after this meal, Rainsford was hunted by Zaroff; then, he learned was it is to be a "beast at bay."  Given the opportunity to reverse the his situation and become again the "hunter," Rainsford takes it, and somehow his conscience does not figure in.

Sanger Rainsford demonstrates the moral lesson that those who condemn certain beliefs often become proselytes.

 

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Another possible approach is the idea of our own mortality. I find Rainsford challenged by Zaroff, which is probably the first time in his life any person or animal instilled any kind of fear in him. Rainsford was a confident hunter before, and I would think post-story his confidence was restored again, but during the story he encountered a challenge he never though possible, being the prey. Zaroff demonstrated Rainsford's weakness that first night of the game, but let it slide. From that point on out, Rainsford knew that his life could be taken too.

Think about what the author might be trying to say about hunting. This story was written in the early 1900s when we had a president who loved to hunt. What lesson do you think he was trying to send to America?

auntlori's profile pic

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

Posted on

"The Most Dangerous Game" is a great story; and, like most great stories, there is certainly something for readers to learn.  In this case, the character who grows and changes is Rainsford, so it's important to think about what he learned during the course of this short story in order to discover the issues the author wants us to reflect upon in our own lives.  If a story has no application to the readers' lives, then it's just entertainment; if we can apply anything to our own lives, there is something to be learned.  In this case, Rainsford was quite unsympathetic on the boat before he fell off and reached the island.  He is quite unsympathetic about how any of the animals must feel as he hunts them.  He doesn't care one bit about how a jaguar feels, he says.  He concludes the discussion with this:

The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees.  Luckily, you and I are hunters.

Of course it isn't too long before that is not true and Rainsford, in fact, becomes the prey for General Zaroff.  He is much calmer and prepared than you or I would have been, but he certainly learns the fear and terror which come from fighting for one's life.  So, one "lesson," as you say, which Richard Connell is trying to make clear is that we should not be so quick to judge what we do not know.  Think about what the text made you think about and ponder; those are other possible themes or lessons from this story.

 

 

justine14's profile pic

justine14 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

"The Most Dangerous Game" is a great story; and, like most great stories, there is certainly something for readers to learn.  In this case, the character who grows and changes is Rainsford, so it's important to think about what he learned during the course of this short story in order to discover the issues the author wants us to reflect upon in our own lives.  If a story has no application to the readers' lives, then it's just entertainment; if we can apply anything to our own lives, there is something to be learned.  In this case, Rainsford was quite unsympathetic on the boat before he fell off and reached the island.  He is quite unsympathetic about how any of the animals must feel as he hunts them.  He doesn't care one bit about how a jaguar feels, he says.  He concludes the discussion with this:

The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees.  Luckily, you and I are hunters.

Of course it isn't too long before that is not true and Rainsford, in fact, becomes the prey for General Zaroff.  He is much calmer and prepared than you or I would have been, but he certainly learns the fear and terror which come from fighting for one's life.  So, one "lesson," as you say, which Richard Connell is trying to make clear is that we should not be so quick to judge what we do not know.  Think about what the text made you think about and ponder; those are other possible themes or lessons from this story.

 

 

We are doing this short story for my english class right now. However, I have to wirte a character analysis on General Zaroff. Before, my class had a quiz on this story which asked one question: What is the theme of "The Most Dangerous Game" ? my answer was very similar to what you put. But, my teacher told me it was incorrect and that the theme of the story is CHANGE because from the beginning to the end of the short story Rainsford had to change an adapt in his situations. My question is can there be more than one theme for this story ? And which theme is more precise ?

epollock's profile pic

epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

The author is basically saying that if you are not a hunter, then you are the hunted. You should do whatever you can and whatever it takes to become a person of authority or responsibility before someone puts you in your place in which you can not make these opportunities,

We’ve answered 318,929 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question