What are the main conflicts in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Sanger Rainsford experiences two major conflicts in “The Most Dangerous Game.” Rainsford experiences a man vs man conflict as he struggles to survive and beat General Zaroff at his hunting “game.” Rainsford also experiences man vs self conflict as he is forced to reconsider his stance on the morality of taking a life.

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There are two types of conflicts: internal and external. External conflicts are the events that happen outside of us, and internal conflicts are the emotional responses and or choices we have to make internally. But these conflicts are not separate from each other. They work together.

Think about it this...

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There are two types of conflicts: internal and external. External conflicts are the events that happen outside of us, and internal conflicts are the emotional responses and or choices we have to make internally. But these conflicts are not separate from each other. They work together.

Think about it this way: humans have emotions, emotions create conflict, and conflict drives a story. Humans don't experience random emotions; emotions are always tied to an external experience. Therefore, any conflict must have both types that directly connect, however, this could be interpreted in many ways depending on the emotion/choice you wish to argue.

Here are the main conflicts in the story.

  • Internal: Rainsford vs. hubris—Rainsford's excessive pride foreshadows what is to come because he does not care about the animals he hunts. He believes he has the right to kill anything he pleases so long as he can outwit it. He quickly becomes humbled when Zaroff proposes they play his game.
  • External: Rainsford vs. Zaroff—Rainsford is faced with a person vs. person conflict where the two will have to fight to the literal death.

These conflicts lead to the moral and or philosophical conundrum that Rainsford must internally battle. He starts off by acting like a cocky hunter, not caring for any other living creature, but through his experience as the "huntee," he shifts his belief system now that he understands what it feels like to be a hunted animal.

  • Internal: Rainsford vs. fear—While Rainsford is being hunted by Zaroff, he must work diligently to keep his fear in check. If he makes one mistake, he's dead.
  • External: Rainsford vs. the island—Rainsford faces a man vs. nature conflict as he makes his way into the jungle and eventually uses the ocean to throw Zaroff off his trail. Between the thick brush, the quicksand, and the jagged shoreline, the environmental odds are stacked against him.

These conflicts make Rainsford work. He must keep himself together emotionally while attempting to use an unknown environment to his advantage. This external conflict tests his ability to stay calm and apply prior knowledge to stay alive.

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Man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. self are the three conflicts that occur throughout Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game." The first conflict, man vs. man, is illustrated in Rainsford's attempt to outrun and outwit the skilled General Zaroff. General Zaroff presents the three-day survival challenge, and Rainsford is forced to rely on his skills to successfully hide throughout the island to save his life. Man vs. nature occurs in Rainsford's struggle against the natural elements of Ship-Trap Island. Rainsford must traverse the dangerous terrain of the island to avoid Zaroff, which includes dense forests, the Death Swamp, and rocky cliffs near the exterior of the island. The final conflict presented throughout the story is man vs. self. Rainsford struggles with the fear and shock of being hunted by General Zaroff on a dangerous island. Rainsford must challenge himself both intellectually and physically to avoid General Zaroff and win the "most dangerous game."   

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The two most important conflicts in "The Most Dangerous Game" are Man vs. Man and Man vs. Nature.

Man vs. Man is a clear conflict. Rainsford and General Zaroff are fighting for different goals, Zaroff for fun and amusement and Rainsford for survival and escape. Throughout the story, they clash on philosophy and morality, and in physical dispute. Rainsford is victorious at the end because he has nothing to lose; he is willing to risk his life to win over Zaroff.

Man vs. Nature is somewhat more subtle. As Rainsford flees into the jungle, he uses his knowledge of hunting to lay false trails and traps. However, the jungle is also his enemy, having natural obstacles of its own:

The ground grew softer under his moccasins; the vegetation grew ranker, denser; insects bit him savagely.

Then, as he stepped forward, his foot sank into the ooze.
(Connel, "The Most Dangerous Game, fiction.eserver.org)

With high rocky cliffs and water all around, there are only a few places where Rainsford can flee. He manages to use some of the island's landscape to his advantage, digging a pit in the soft earth and setting a deadfall, but it is only his willingness to fully accept the danger of the crashing waves that gives him an edge over Zaroff.

 

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There are both  external and internal conflicts in "The Most Dangerous Game."  .

The external conflicts are:

Man against Nature: Rainsford struggles against the sea after he falls from the yacht until he reaches the island.

Man against Man:  Rainsfor struggles against Count Zaroff as he plays the most dangerous game.

 

The internal conflict:

Man against himself: Rainsford struggles with his will to continue through the game.  He encourages and motivates himself until he ultimately wins the game.

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