In Connoll's short story "The Most Dangerous Game," provide evidence that the story is an example of "escape" literature rather than "interpretative" literature. 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Wheeler...

...escape literature (also called literature of escape) includes books and short stories about desperate protagonists escaping from confinement...

Interpretative literature speaks to the real world and human existence: in essence, this kind of literature speaks to one's interpretation of reality, or explains it.

In Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," the story is more escape literature than interpretive, but it does have strong elements of  interpretive literature as well.

When Sanger Rainsford falls off the yacht on which he is traveling and unexpectedly lands on General Zaroff's island, he quickly discovers that Zaroff is not only a fan, but an able hunter as well. However, Rainsford also finds that if he will not join Zaroff in hunting human beings for sport, he (Rainsford) will be the prey in Zaroff's search for the ultimate thrill of the sport. Rainsford has no choice but to comply: otherwise, Ivan (Zaroff's henchman) will take care of Rainsford himself and he'll have no chance at survival. 

“You’ll find this game worth playing,” the general said enthusiastically. “Your brain against mine. Your woodcraft against mine. Your strength and stamina against mine. Outdoor chess! And the stake is not without value, eh?"

The "stake" is Rainsford's life. He must use all his hunting skills, all of his vast knowledge, to outsmart Zaroff and find a way to escape the island. This all indicates that the story is "escape literature." However, there are glimpses into the darker side of human nature, as well as a reality check, in terms of what power, money and entitlement can do to a person. These elements point to interpretive literature as well, for the author studies how human nature can become skewed. This is not imaginative: we see examples of this throughout history and in our world today. Historically, Greece's Nero went insane, famously fiddling while Rome burned. Consider Hitler or Idi Amin:

Amin's rule was characterised by human rights abuse, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption...

With complete power and control, this Ugandan dictator behaved as he pleased. 

We can see the same behavior in Zaroff: he has turned his back on the civilized world and all moral behavior. Before dinner, Ivan lays out an "evening suit," which Rainsford notes...

...came from a London tailor who ordinarily cut and sewed for none below the rank of duke.

That Rainsford knows this indicates that he is well versed in the ways of the world and of the wealthy, but his behavior shows that he has a moral center, which Zaroff does not. Ironically, the wealthy Zaroff apologizes for their difficulty in maintaining some semblance of civilized living (though as a murderer...he is not civilized) when he tells Rainsford:

We do our best to preserve the amenities of civilization here. 

And while Rainsford first believes Zaroff a "most thoughtful and affable host," he soon discovers that he is anything but. Zaroff admits that his one passion is "the hunt." He lures ships into a fake channel, using harbor lights; entering the channel, ships are broken on the rocks, and Zaroff uses the survivors, prejudicially thinking nothing of killing...

...the scum of the earth...lascars [sailors from India], blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels..."

The story is escape literature, but includes elements that study the distorted human condition.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial