What clues at the start of "The Most Dangerous Game" foreshadow danger ahead for Rainsford?
There is a great deal of foreshadowing in "The Most Dangerous Game" that suggests that danger is in store for Rainsford.
First off, even Whitney acknowledges within the first several lines that the name of the island they are sailing past is called "Ship-Trap Island." He comments that it's a "suggestive name" and that sailors have a "curious dread of the place." He later returns to the topic, stating that the place has a bad reputation and that even cannibals wouldn't dare live there. While Whitney is convinced that the place is evil, Rainsford thinks nothing of it.
When Whitney and Rainsford are discussing the feelings of the jaguar they are about to hunt, Whitney comments that the jaguar understands a singular thing: "the fear of pain and the fear of death." Rainsford laughs this off, hardly realizing that he will soon be experiencing the same fear.
Later that evening, Rainsford hears three gunshots preceded by an odd cry; these are the sounds of something being hunted on the island. At this point, he falls off the railing of the yacht and into the dark water-- an event which foreshadows his later intentional dive into the waters to escape Zaroff and his hounds.
As he is swimming to shore, Rainsford hears a sound that he does not recognize as an animal sound, which is then cut short by a pistol shot. On the island, he sees the evidence of a struggle: bloodshed, empty cartridges, and the print of a hunting boot.
All of this foreshadows the fact that Rainsford himself will be hunted and come face-to-face with his own mortality at the hands of the sadistic Zaroff.
The first intimation of danger on the island occurs before Rainsford even swims to shore. He hears the cry of an animal being hunted; it is a piercing sound of an animal with which Rainsford is not familiar.
When Rainsford gets to shore and begins to explore the island, he finds empty gun shells. He assumes the gun was used to hunt the animal whose cry he did not recognize. Rainsford is puzzled as to why a hunter would use a small gun to hunt a large animal.
There is only a single house on the island, a looming, foreboding structure. General Zaroff's assistant, Ivan, is a huge person who is mute.
All of these details add up to masterful foreshadowing of the horror that Rainsford is to face. He discovers the horror while dining with General Zaroff and listening to the general describe his hunting habits and his prey.
Richad Edward Connell's short story “The Most Dangerous Game” foreshadows danger from the moment one reads the title. What is the most dangerous game? Can someone lose their life playing "the most dangerous game"?
Foreshadowing is continued with the island being described as "Ship-Trap Island" and General Zaroff mentioning to Rainsford during dinner that Zaroff has a "new game." It is easy to think ahead that Rainsford will be in some kind of danger, and may have to play "the most dangerous game," and if he wins, he gets his life; loses, his life is ended.
The last line of the story:"He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided," lets the reader know that Rainsford has killed General Zaroff, and has won "the most dangerous game."