In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does the setting function in the story?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Much attention is paid to "Ship-Trap Island", itself used to foreshadow the way that General Zaroff has created an environment that literally draws ships to the island to be shipwrecked so he can "use" the sailors for his own nefarious purposes. Zaroff's description of how he has fashioned his environment for this purpose is interesting. Talking about the lights that he can turn on and off, he says:

"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." He dropped a walnut on the hardwood floor and brought his heel grinding down on it. "Oh yes," he said casually, as if in answer to a question, "I have electricity. We try to be civilised here."

This to me is an extremely fascinating passage because it captures the paradox of the setting: on the one hand what Zaroff has done is create a man-trap deliberately designed to kill and destroy ships, yet at the same time he insists that he is "civilised," ignoring the apparent contradiction. This paradox runs throughout the story as we are presented with an urbane, educated and cosmopolitan individual who lives in Western luxury, yet at the same time shows his brute, barbaric nature by his favourite pass time and the environment he has created for it.

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