What are the deeper meanings behind the conversation in the beginning of "The Most Dangerous Game" between Whitney and Rainsford? Focused section: From the beginning of the story ("OFF THERE to the right") up to where it says "Right. Good night, Whitney." Thanks for the help! -Alan P.S.: Quoting directly from the story will certainly help proving the point!

Expert Answers

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It is fairly obvious to the mature reader that the conversation between Whitney and Rainsford acts as foreshadowing of actions and character development to come in Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game."  However, there are other more subtle suggestions that exist within the dialogue of the two hunters.

  • For one thing, Rainsford's conviction that it is "nonsense" to consider the feelings of the beast at bay prove to be ironic.  For, later in the narrative, he himself becomes the "beast at bay" and then truly understands the terror that any animal--human or otherwise--experiences.
  • Connell also introduces the concept of evil as perceptible.  The old Swede, Captain Nielsen intuitively recognizes the danger of the island that "has an evil name among seafarring men."  Whitney tells Rainsford that he has felt a chill as they draw near this island. 
  • This conversation generates suspense, as well.
  • As an indication of his character, Rainsford dismisses these comments as "Pure Imagination."  Of course, this refusal to recognize intuition as a legitimate force acts as foreshadowing as well as part of his personality that will be affected by future events.  For, had Rainsford been in touch with his intuition, he may not have so quickly approached the palatial chateau of General Zaroff, placing himself in the lair of his predator. 
  • With this section of the narrative, Connell also sets up the problem.  That is, the opposing position on the prey's feelings are soon to be tested in the conflict between Zaroff and Rainsford. 
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