silhouette of a man with one eye open hiding in the jungle

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

Start Free Trial

How does Whitney feel when they pass the island in the short story "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Whitney expresses a certain curiosity about the island. He tells Sanger Rainsford of the sailors' fears and superstitions about the place and remarks on how apt its name seems to be—"Ship-Trap Island." Since he has not had any direct experience related to the sailors' fears, he likely cannot share their sentiments. He does, however, admit that he experienced a strangely unnatural chill as they passed the supposedly foreboding place.

Now, you mustn't laugh when I tell you this—I did feel something like a sudden chill.

Whitney also says that the island is a "God-forsaken place," and he asks Rainsford whether he thinks that the air around them is "actually poisonous." It is apparent that Whitney is somewhat convinced by the overwhelming trepidation that the sailors feel. Their tales about the island and its terrors are so palpable that he imagines feeling its malice himself.

Whitney's dire sentiments foreshadow the terror that Sanger Rainsford later experiences on the island when he becomes a victim of General Zaroff's bloodthirsty lust to hunt human prey.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Whitney feels fear as he and Rainsford pass the island at the beginning of the story. Part of the reason he feels this fear is because he knows what experienced sailors say about it. He believes that these sailors have a sixth sense about danger. This is very different than Rainsford, who does not know anything about the island and dismisses all legends as superstitious.  Here is what Whitney says:

"The old charts call it `Ship-Trap Island,"' Whitney replied." A suggestive name, isn't it? Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition--"

As they get closer to the island, Whitney's fear only increases. He says to Rainsford that he felt a child down his spine. The place exudes terror. Here are the words of Whitney and Rainsford:

"There was no breeze. The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window. We were drawing near the island then. What I felt was a--a mental chill; a sort of sudden dread."

"Pure imagination," said Rainsford.

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

As we can see, Rainsford dismisses the fear, Whitney feels it. In this case, Whitey is correct, because it is the island where Zaroff lives. More importantly, this is the place where Zaroff hunts humans. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team