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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," does Zaroff give his human opponents a fair chance?

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Solid question.  I had to mull this one over for a bit.  In Zaroff's opinion, yes, he does give his prey (victims?) a fair chance to survive.  Zaroff will make sure that his human prey are in top physical condition before beginning his hunt.  That seems fair.  At least he gives them a chance to actually be physically capable of running.  I also assume that he gives the prey at least a knife, because that is what he gave Rainsford.  Zaroff also gives each man a choice: be hunted for three days or let Ivan whip them to death.  The story tells the readers that most men opt to be hunted.  Whipping is a guaranteed death, and being ensured good physical condition and a weapon sounds like a far better choice.  

The problem is that Zaroff still holds huge advantages over his human prey.  It is not a fair chance.  Zaroff is an expert hunter.  It's his island, so he is intimately familiar with where everything is, including where his prey is most likely to go.  Plus, he is also experienced enough with the island to know what looks normal and what has been tampered with by another human.  Zaroff's weapons are also completely overpowered compared to his prey's weapon.  Zaroff gets a gun.  Rainsford gets a knife.  I'm sure you've heard the saying "never bring a knife to a gunfight."  Plus Zaroff uses dogs to help him search for his prey's location.  Lastly, Zaroff has a safe location to return to each night in order to become well rested and fed.  None of his prey have that advantage.  

So no, Zaroff does not give a fair chance to his human opponents. 

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In the story, "The Most Dangerous Game," does Zaroff give a fair chance to his human opponents in his hunting game?

The answer to this question is a resounding, "no." The game is not fair in any respect. Here are the reasons: 

First, Zaroff has the home field advantage. He knows the island and the terrain very well. This is an enormous advantage in hunting and war. We should also mention that he is a general, so he is well aware that he has an advantage.

Second, Zaroff has his dogs who are well trained; not to mention Ivan, who is also trained in war. 

Third, the participant is an unwilling huntee. He does not know what to expect and does not want to play. This puts the huntee at a serious disadvantage. 

Even when it comes to equipment, the person being hunted does not have much. Zaroff says that he gives the person three things: food, a good knife, and a three days head start. Zaroff, on the other hand, has a gun, dogs, and Ivan.

So, in every way, Zaroff is not being fair. 

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In Richard Connell’s short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," does Zaroff give a fair chance to his human opponents in his hunting game?

Zaroff does not give his human prey a fair chance.  He has all of the advantages in the hunt.

Zaroff tells Rainsford that he was such a good hunter that he got bored.  Hunting even the biggest animals did not challenge him anymore.  He was rich enough and arrogant enough that he decided it was his right to set himself up on an island and kidnap men to kill.

First of all, the men do not get a fair chance even in how they end up on the island.  Ship-trap Island is surrounded by a dangerous reef, but Zaroff installs a light that indicates that it is safe to pass by it in order to literally trap ships and men.  He then kidnaps the shipwrecked men, takes them prisoner, and forces them to take part in the hunt as his prey.  Zaroff shows Rainsford the blinking lights.

The general chuckled. "They indicate a channel," he said, "where there's none; giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut."

Once the men are captured, Zaroff offers them a choice to hunt with him or be beaten to death by his assistant, Ivan.  Most men take the offer of playing the game, because at least they figure it gives them a chance at escape rather than certain death.

However, it is a very small chance.  Zaroff comments that it is not a very high quality class of men that he has on the island, and he has to prepare them for the hunt by keeping them prisoner.

… I treat these visitors with every consideration. They get plenty of good food and exercise. They get into splendid physical condition. You shall see for yourself tomorrow."

"What do you mean?"

"We'll visit my training school," smiled the general. "It's in the cellar. I have about a dozen pupils down there now. …”

During the hunt, the men are also at a disadvantage.  Rainsford is given a knife, but Zaroff has a gun.  He also has Ivan to assist him, and a pack of trained hunting dogs to track for him.  He knows the island much better than any of the men he is hunting, of course.  Although Zaroff says that he wants a challenge, he also makes sure that the deck is stacked in his favor. 

Zaroff’s downfall was in choosing Rainsford as prey.  A trained hunter, Rainsford is also extremely adept at setting traps.  It is his ability to think outside the box that wins the game for him though.  He not only evades Zaroff, he is able to make it back to his house and kill him.  Rainsford realized that the general was playing with him, prolonging the game when he probably could have easily taken Rainsford more than once.  He either does not believe that Zaroff will set him free, or he wants revenge for the misery that Zaroff put him through.  Either way, he ends the game on his terms by killing General Zaroff.


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In Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game,” does Zaroff give a fair chance to his human opponents?

On his remote island off the coast of South America the sociopathic General Zaroff hunts men for sport. He has grown tired of hunting animals because he has grown too expert in his chosen passion so he hunts men who become stranded on the island, which has the nickname "Ship-Trap." After revealing his diabolical pastime to Rainsford during their dinner conversation, Zaroff notes that the men he hunts are treated quite well before they are released into the jungle:

"I treat these visitors with every consideration. They get plenty of good food and exercise. They get into splendid physical condition."

Along with this the general provides them with food, a good hunting knife, and gives them a three hours' head start before releasing them. Afterward he sets off after them with "a pistol of the smallest caliber and range." It could then be argued that Zaroff does indeed give them somewhat of a fair chance. Of course, a really fair chance would involve also giving them the same type of pistol which he carries and a map of the island. The general, however, is quite uncanny in his abilities and even Rainsford, a seasoned hunter himself, has difficulty eluding Zaroff. The general also has the aid of trained tracking dogs if his prey is particularly skilled, as Rainsford proves to be. Ultimately, it takes a daring leap into the sea for Rainsford to avoid death at the general's hands. With this in mind, it is evident that Zaroff has too many advantages for the game to be considered fair.

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Did General Zaroff hunt fairly in the "Most Dangerous Game"?

This is a good question. General Zaroff did not hunt fairly at all in the short story, "The Most Dangerous Game." 

First of all, Rainsford was not a willing participant. He was forced to be hunted. This is an enormous point. In addition, General Zaroff had the home field advantage. In hunting as well as war, knowing the terrain is a huge advantage. Rainsford, on the other hand, had to learn everything on the run. 

Second, the hunt was not one on one. General Zaroff had Ivan, who is described as a huge man. Not only this, the general had dogs. In short, all the things he needed for a successful hunt he had. What makes this contrast even starker is that the general barely gave Rainsford anything. According to our text, Rainsford only got a few thins:

Then a businesslike air animated him. "Ivan," he said to Rainsford, "will supply you with hunting clothes, food, a knife. I suggest you wear moccasins; they leave a poorer trail.

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