The Most Dangerous Game is often used to teach the elements of plot. In the rising action of any story, complications further develop the story, and in an action-packed story like this one, suspense builds dramatically. I would say it is likely the single-most vivid literary device in the story.
I think the reason it is important in this case is because we are exploring the morality of hunting humans for sport, for pleasure. This is not okay with the majority of the reading audience so it keeps our attention.
This suspense is developed by events that make us wonder if Rainsford is going to get off of the island alive. We first wonder if he will survive the long swim; then, we wonder if the chateau is going to house a civilized man or a monster (I think we find in Zaroff a bit of both). Next, we wonder if Zaroff is going to hunt with or just hunt Rainsford. Finally, we wonder if Rainsford will be able to outsmart him three different times.
This story to me seems very purposeful and calculated by the author, I don't know that chance or coincidence play major roles, but the few I see are these:
- Rainsford didn't care how a jaguar felt about being hunted. Ironically, knowing how it feels to be hunted became a major experience of the story.
- General Zaroff was growing bored in his hunting of men. They were too stupid and offered no challenge. Ironically, Rainsford a world-renowned hunter presented a great intellectual challenge.
- The island's mystery didn't scare Rainsford, but only the rest of the crew. Rainsford ironically becomes the one who gets thrown into the ocean to have to deal with the mystery.