How important is suspense in the story?

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cldbentley | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Suspense, which is the reader's feeling of anxiety or curiosity about what is to come, is extremely important to "The Most Dangerous Game," a short story written by Richard Connell.  From the first few paragraphs of the story, Connell begins to encourage readers to feel a growing sense of apprehension; he uses description and the mention of superstition and strange locations (Ship-Trap Island) to lead the reader to experience a feelings of mystery, dread, and other similar emotions.

Throughout the story, Connell uses various methods to create suspenseful plot twists, to provide instances of dark foreshadowing, and to cause the reader to predict unpleasant possibilities.  One example of this takes place fairly early in the story:

...For a seemingly endless time he [Rainsford] fought the sea.  He began to count his strokes; he could do possibly a hundred more and then--

Although Connell does provide the reader with some small relief caused by the tension of reading a story filled with continued suspense, that relief is relatively short-lived.  The conflict between Rainsford, the protagonist, and General Zaroff, the antagonist, leads the reader to feel an almost unrelieved sense of apprehension.  This feeling continues, almost unalleviated, until the final action in the story, when Zaroff finds Rainsford in his bedroom.