What is an example of an onomatopoeia in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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An onomatopoeia is an example of a literary device that imitates and mimics the natural sound of something. Writers utilize onomatopoeias to make their writing more interesting, vivid, and expressive. Richard Connell utilizes several onomatopoeias in his classic short story "The Most Dangerous Game."

Toward the beginning of the story, Whitney tells Rainsford goodnight and proceeds to go below deck while Rainsford continues to smoke his pipe on the ship's upper deck. Connell utilizes an onomatopoeia by writing,

There was no sound in the night as Rainsford sat there but the muffled throb of the engine that drove the yacht swiftly through the darkness, and the swish and ripple of the wash of the propeller. (2)

The words "swish" and "ripple" are examples of onomatopoeias because they imitate the natural sound of the yacht's propeller moving through the water.

Toward the end of the story, Connell utilizes onomatopoeia again by writing, "Twenty feet below him [Rainsford] the sea rumbled and hissed" (14). The words "rumbled" and "hissed" are onomatopoeia that once again imitate the natural sounds of the sea.

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Let us remember that onomatopoeia is when words are used that mimic or enact the actual sound that they are trying to describe, such as "scuttled," which sounds like the actual action it represents. The best part of this story to turn to is when the game actually begins between Zaroff and Rainsford, and Rainsford manages to survive. The importance of sound in these passages, when Rainsford is trying to outwit Zaroff, is key. Consider the following example:

He knew his pursuer was coming; he heard the padding sound of feet on the soft earth, and the night breeze brought him the perfume of the general's cigarette.

Note the word "padding" which is of course an example of onomatopoeia. Towards the end of the story, we also have another great example as Rainsford looks down to the sea, which "rumbled and hissed." Hopefully you can use these two examples to find some more in this excellent story. Good luck!

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