Were the conflicts in "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell vivid and believable?

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

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"The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell is a story full of conflicts; though the story is not particularly believable, the conflicts do seem real within the context of the story.

Plenty of things in this story do seem to strain the imaginations of the readers, as they are just too convenient: big-game hunter falls off ship just as it passes the creepy island; hunter manages to make it to shore, through the rocks, in the black of night; a luxuriously appointed mansion is the only structure on the entire island and Rainsford manages to get there relatively quickly; the man who owns the mansion knows who Rainsford is--and he also likes to hunt. From there of course, we learn that General Zaroff has been hunting humans and now insists on hunting his guest, Rainsford (after a good night's sleep, of course).

The conversation between the two men in the morning is not a surprising one, as Rainsford insists on leaving. What is surprising to me is that Rainsford did not leave. This huge conflict (the hugest, actually, a fight to the death) is about to happen, yet Rainsford willingly spends the night and then, in the morning, talks reasonably and in a civilized way with the man who wants to kill him. Either Zaroff does not seem as determined and bloodthirsty as we think or Rainsford is not a very good judge of character.Of course the latter is true, and Rainsford should have left.

The rest of the conversation the two men have before Rainsford leaves to get a head start on Zaroff has always sounded stilted and not particularly believable. It is the "he said" kind of words that make me question the realism. 

"As you wish, my friend," he said. "The choice rests entirely with you. But may I not venture to suggest that you will find my idea of sport more diverting than Ivan's?"

He nodded toward the corner to where the giant stood, scowling, his thick arms crossed on his hogshead of chest.

"You don't mean--" cried Rainsford.

I am not saying that Rainsford does not have a reason for being so upset here, but it does seem to me that "cried" is not quite the right word here.

"My dear fellow," said the general, "have I not told you I always mean what I say about hunting? This is really an inspiration. I drink to a foeman worthy of my steel--at last." The general raised his glass, but Rainsford sat staring at him.

"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 use of the general's "enthusiastically" strikes me the same way, as somehow not quite fitting to the impending conflict. The same is true of Rainsford's next line:

"And if I win--" began Rainsford huskily.

Despite these incongruities (at least in my mind), the actual conflict--the hunt--seems quite believable. Rainsford is truly is frantic to get away from the general, and the General truly is "toying" with his most challenging prey. 

At daybreak Rainsford, lying near the swamp, was awakened by a sound that made him know that he had new things to learn about fear. It was a distant sound, faint and wavering, but he knew it. It was the baying of a pack of hounds.

When Rainsford hears the hounds, he knows his time is nearly over, and I believe him. Rainsford jumps off a cliff onto the rocks below, and I do not doubt his panic. Most of the true conflict of the story seems believable to me. 

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