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kat-draney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Most Dangerous Game," also known by its alternative title "The Hounds of Zaroff," is a suspenseful short story by Richard Connell. It was originally published in Collier's, an old American magazine, in the year 1924. 

Author Richard Connell claims to have been inspired by the popularity of safaris and game hunting within that time period, specifically in Africa and South America. The story takes place on an island in the Caribbean, when famous game hunter Sanger Rainsford falls from his boat and washes ashore only to become a pawn in a disturbing game.

He discovers a large home inhabited by the General Zaroff and his gigantic servant, Ivan. Zaroff reveals himself to also be a prolific hunter, and the two bond for a short period of time before Rainsford begins to notice the unsettling tone he receives from he General. He learns that Zaroff has hunted all of the major game in the world, so he created a new "game" to play. He takes humans and releases them on the island so that he can hunt them. Since humans have skill and tact, they are more worthy competitors of a skilled hunter such as Zaroff. Rainsford is horrified to learn that the General wants to hunt him as well. Through a series of challenging outdoor situations, Rainsford manages to outwit the General Zaroff and kill his servant, Ivan.

We can infer many things about Rainsford from his ability to escape from Zaroff on multiple occasions, and from the details he shares with the reader. Rainsford has excellent eyesight because he is able to see the outline of the island in the dead of night. He also has considerable strength and stamina, which we can assume by his ability to climb trees, set traps, and swim both to the island and after he escapes from Zaroff after killing Ivan.

Rainsford, as a skilled hunter, must be both quick, have excellent focus and eyesight, and be able to escape dangerous situations. It is no wonder that he is the competitor who is finally able to outsmart General Zaroff.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rainsford is a talented hunter, partly because of his physical characteristics.  First of all, he has “good eyes” and can see the island from far away, in the dark.  Having good eyesight would be very beneficial to a hunter, and so would good night vision.  It also helps him survive the game.

Rainsford is also quick, and when he hears the gunshot from the island he springs up quickly.

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.

He shows great dexterity, but also clumsiness.  This is how he ends up on the island.

Rainsford is also physically strong.  He is a good swimmer, and has good stamina.

Rainsford remembered the shots. They had come from the right, and doggedly he swam in that direction, swimming with slow, deliberate strokes, conserving his strength. For a seemingly endless time he fought the sea.

During the hunt, Rainsford shows cunning and physical strength, running, climbing trees and staying ahead.  He also swims again.  Clearly, Rainsford is fit and physically strong.




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The Most Dangerous Game

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