How does Richard Connell use characterization to develop the theme in his short story "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Most Dangerous Game," characterization, or the way characters are portrayed through descriptions, thoughts, and actions, helps to build the theme of the story because the protagonist is dynamic. A dynamic character changes from the beginning of the story to the end; therefore, as Rainsford's character changes, a theme is revealed. For example, at the start of the story, Rainsford and Whitney talk philosophically about hunting. Whitney considers the fact that a jaguar has feelings of fear and pain during a hunt. Rainsford, on the other hand, tells Whitney, "Who cares how a jaguar feels?" This discussion about hunting builds a foundation for a theme about whether it is ethical to kill animals since they have feelings and suffer from pain.

Over the course of the story, both the protagonist and the theme develop as Rainsford discovers exactly what it feels like to be "a beast at bay." The theme evolves from the morality behind hunting animals to whether one is ever justified in killing another person. For instance, in the beginning, the question that points to the theme is whether people are ethically justified to hunt animals. Well, how would a person feel if he or she is hunted? If a human is hunted like an animal, would that affect his or her philosophy about hunting and killing? To answer these questions, look at the climax and resolution of the story.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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