In "The Most Dangerous Game", what roles do chance and coincidence play in the story?
Chance or coincidence plays a large role in that Rainsford happened to fall of his boat, and happened to be a famous hunter.
Chance or coincidence do seem to play a role in this story. The first coincidence is that Rainsford, a renowned hunter, happened to fall off his yacht close enough to swim to the island, after dropping his pipe. That is definitely odd! Rainsford would happen to fall of near and island, and that island. He knew the island was there because he had been warned that it was dangerous, although the only source of the danger was vague sailors’ rumors.
He leaped upon the rail and balanced himself there, to get greater elevation; his pipe, striking a rope, was knocked from his mouth. He lunged for it; a short, hoarse cry came from his lips as he realized he had reached too far and had lost his balance.
The sailors likely fear the island because their fellows keep ending up disappearing near there. Once Rainsford washed up on the island, another coincidence is that the island’s only inhabitant is an avid hunter. Rainsford is not just a famous hunter; he is a writer of several hunting books. When he runs into Zaroff, the general knows exactly who he is. If Zaroff hadn’t been a hunter, or if Rainsford hadn’t been either, or if Rainsford had not written books on the subject, Zaroff would not have known who Rainsford was.
"It is a very great pleasure and honor to welcome Mr. Sanger Rainsford, the celebrated hunter, to my home." …
"I've read your book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet, you see," explained the man. "I am General Zaroff."
Zaroff was bored, and desperate to find better game. Hunting animals was nothing to him anymore. Hunting ordinary humans was getting dull. What he needed was an expert hunter, trained in evasion and traps, to make the game interesting. Rainsford fit the bill perfectly, and Zaroff was practically salivating at the prospect of hunting him. If Rainsford had not called Zaroff a murderer, he might have hunted with him instead of being his prey, but we will never know. Rainsford was the perfect prize, after all.