silhouette of a man with one eye open hiding in the jungle

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell
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What is the first conflict that Rainsford must face?

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Rainsford's first conflict in Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game" must be considered man vs. nature. The story itself also includes a man vs. man conflict when Rainsford meets General Zaroff . After hearing a gunshot from a nearby island as his yacht travels toward...

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Rainsford's first conflict in Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game" must be considered man vs. nature. The story itself also includes a man vs. man conflict when Rainsford meets General Zaroff. After hearing a gunshot from a nearby island as his yacht travels toward South America, Rainsford leaps onto the ship's railing, and, when he inadvertently loses his pipe, he tumbles into the sea as the yacht speeds ahead. He must fight the natural elements to survive.

Once in the ocean, Rainsford swims furiously for about fifty feet before he comes to his senses and realizes he must conserve his strength in the heavy surf:

A certain coolheadedness had come to him; it was not the first time he had been in a tight place. There was a chance his cries could be heard by someone aboard the yacht, but that chance was slender and grew more slender as the yacht raced on. He wrestled himself out of his clothes and...remembered the shots. They had come from the right, and doggedly he swam in that direction, swimming with slow, deliberate strokes, conserving his strength.

Eventually Rainsford reaches the island because he had not lost his head. This trait of remaining calm and evaluating every aspect of a situation will serve Rainsford well as he eludes Zaroff during the hunt in the jungle which takes up the second half of the story. This early conflict with nature provides foreshadowing for Rainsford's actions later in the story.

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The very first conflict that Rainsford experiences happens before he even meets Zaroff and lands on Ship-Trap island.  On his yacht, Rainsford is reflectively smoking his pipe when he hears gunshots coming from the island obscured by a fog.   Rainsford drops his pipe and while grabbing for it, falls into the ocean. From there, he must swim to the island in the treacherous ocean, conserving his energy in order to make it. So, the very first conflict Rainsford has is with nature and trying to survive the ocean. 

After that, the main conflict in the story is against Zaroff as Rainsford is hunted.  Rainsford fights for his life (like the big game he has hunted all his life) against Zaroff until the end when he kills Zaroff and takes over the island as the new winner of the “most dangerous game.” 

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