What is the climax of "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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The climax of "The Most Dangerous Game" comes when Rainsford jumps into the ocean. 

Zaroff has been chasing him for days. After Rainsford failure on the first day, Zaroff played "cat and mouse" with Rainsford, letting the prey remain free for a while. When Zaroff comes again for Rainsford, Rainsford begins to use his wits and his experience, killing off one of Zaroff's dogs and later Zaroff's assistant, Ivan.

Despite his successes, Rainsford becomes cornered in a section of the island. The dogs are coming for him and he has nowhere left to run. The tension of the story reaches its peak as Rainsford makes a decision about how to respond to this impossible situation. 

In a fit of desperation, Rainsford looks to his only escape—jumping off the cliff into the sea which waits far below. He takes this chance.

After this moment in the story, we are presented with conclusion and resolution. Though Zaroff and Rainsford have their final confrontation in the house and Rainsford kills Zaroff, this final meeting occurs by way of falling action.

The tension of the story has already begun to dissipate. Others might argue that the concluding confrontation between the two men represents the climax of the story, bringing the central conflict to a close. However, the central conflict of the story - Rainsford's battle for survival - is decided when Rainsford jumps into the sea. 

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This question is open to debate. In my opinion, the climax to "The Most Dangerous Game" comes near the end of the story when Rainsford finds himself trapped and is forced to make a decision: whether to stand up to the approaching Zaroff or to take his chances with the dangerous waters below.

     "Nerve, nerve, nerve!" he panted, as he dashed along. A blue gap showed between the trees dead ahead. Ever nearer drew the hounds... Twenty feet below him the sea rumbled and hissed. Rainsford hesitated. He heard the hounds. Then he leaped far out into the sea...

However, author Richard Connell imposes a double-surprise ending which also presents the possibility of an alternate or different climax. Not only does Rainsford survive the plunge into the sea and then surprise Zaroff in his bedroom, but he then announces that the hunt is still on, this time with Zaroff as Rainsford's prey. This could also be considered the climax, but I would call it the falling action. The last line of the short story serves as the denouement, the final resolution.

     He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.

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For this story, you need to examine the events carefully to determine the main turning point, which is a good indicator of the climax. Where in the story does the action or a character change?

I think the most obvious answer is near the end of the story when Rainsford confronts Zaroff in his bedroom. Zaroff tells Rainsford that he is free to go, since he won the game. At this point Rainsford has the opportunity to show his moral superiority to Zaroff, but instead, he chooses to continue the game.

Interestingly enough, after having killed Zaroff, Rainsford does NOT free the "prey" that Zarroff has been holding for future hunts. This inaction further supports the idea that Rainsford's confrontation with Zaroff is the climax of the story, since the possibility of his replacing Zaroff (symbolized by a comfortable night's sleep in Zaroff's bed) definitely indicates a change, or turning point, that takes place in Rainsford's character.

Throughout the story the audience has viewed Rainsford as different from Zaroff, but at the climax his true--or possibly his new character is revealed.

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