In "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell, what component of the plot diagram did the author leave out?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" is one of the most well known short stories, at least in the United States. It is not a short short story, so Connell felt free to devote plenty of time to develop any of the plot elements he wanted; despite that, there is one traditional element of a story which he omits.

We do have an inciting action, the moment in the story where everything changes. That moment is obviously when Rainsford falls off the ship, though a case could be made it is when he lands on the island. Either way, there is an inciting action.

There is also plenty of rising action. Everything that happens from the time Rainsford leaves the ship (or lands on the island) until the turning point/climax/crisis is rising action. Clearly this is the majority of the story.

The plot diagram elements which remain are the turning point, falling action, and resolution (or denouement). The amount of the story that remains is minimal.

A man, who had been hiding in the curtains of the bed, was standing there.

"Rainsford!" screamed the general. "How in God's name did you get here?"

"Swam," said Rainsford. "I found it quicker than walking through the jungle."

The general sucked in his breath and smiled. "I congratulate you," he said. "You have won the game."

Rainsford did not smile. "I am still a beast at bay," he said, in a low, hoarse voice. "Get ready, General Zaroff."

The general made one of his deepest bows. "I see," he said. "Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds. The other will sleep in this very excellent bed. On guard, Rainsford." . . .

He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.

Here are two possible ways to interpret the ending in terms of a plot diagram. 

First, the turning point is when Rainsford appears in Zaroff's bedroom, which makes Rainsford killing Zaroff the resolution. In this scenario, there is no falling action. 

A second reading goes like this: the turning point is when Rainsford appears in the bedroom and the falling action is the rest of the story (Zaroff's implied death and Rainsford sleeping in his bed-. What is missing in this scenario is the denouement (the tying up of loose ends). We do not know what happened to Rainsford or the others afterward.

The first reading is stronger because we do know what happened to the two main characters and we know how the hunt ended. Since these are the two things we most care about in this story, the first option makes the most sense and the missing plot diagram element in this story is the falling  action. 

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