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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell
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How are Whitney's views on hunting different from Rainsford's?

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In the beginning of Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game ," two big game hunters sit on the deck of a yacht speeding toward South America where they will hunt jaguars. After an initial discussion concerning a nearby island, their conversation turns to the plight of the...

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In the beginning of Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game," two big game hunters sit on the deck of a yacht speeding toward South America where they will hunt jaguars. After an initial discussion concerning a nearby island, their conversation turns to the plight of the animals they hunt. Whitney suggests that the animals experience feelings such as fear and pain. When Rainsford claims that the animals have no understanding of what is happening to them, Whitney says,

"Even so, I rather think they understand one thing—fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death."

Rainsford rejects this point of view, asserting the world is "made up of two classes—the hunters and the huntees." For Rainsford, it doesn't matter what the animal feels. It only matters that he is able to indulge in his favorite pastime. Whitney, however, acknowledges implicitly that hunting is cruel to the animals. Rainsford calls this nonsense and accuses Whitney of being soft and unrealistic. Ultimately, this conversation is later revealed to be ironic. In the end, Rainsford understands what it is like to be a "beast at bay" and it is likely that his hunting days are over after his encounter with General Zaroff. During the hunt he experiences the fear and pain which Whitney had expressed aboard the yacht in the beginning of the story.

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