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To state something explicitly, one goes directly to the point, whereas if one speaks implicitly, innuendos are employed, meanings are not directly expressed and are, therefore, open to interpretation. Intriguingly, the title of Connell's story has both explicit and implicit meanings: Explicitly, it means a sport or activity which involves great opportunities for harm to a person; implicitly, it can mean a creature that is hunted who possesses an intelligence which makes it a serious threat.
In "The Most Dangerous Game," there are certainly instances in which both explicit and implicit language are used by the characters. For instance, in his dinner conversation with Rainsford, General Zaroff employs both explicit and implicit language:
Zaroff explains to Rainsford that he is familiar with him because he has read all Rainsford's books on hunting published in three different languages. Then, he says explicitly, "I have but one passion in my life, Mr. Rainsford, and it is the hunt."
Rainsford observes one of Zaroff's "wonderful heads" and remarks explicitly, "I've always thought...that the Cape buffalo is the most dangerous of all big game." To this remark, Zaroff replies implicitly,
"Here in my preserve on this island," he replied in the same slow tone, " I hunt more dangerous game." (implicit language--he implies a meaning other than what Rainsford considers)
Rainsford expressed his surprise. "Is there big game on this island?" (explicit language)
The general nodded. "The biggest." (implicit language--the general is not speaking of size; he implies the intelligence level.)
Their conversation continues in this manner, until Rainsford finally grasps the implied meanings of Zaroff's remarks and is horrified at the realization that the general has been implying that he hunts men.
"But you can't mean---gasped Rainsford." (explicit language)
"And why not?....I am speaking of hunting." (very implicit language)
"Hunting? General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder." (very explicit language)
Explicit language is clear, straightforward language. The meaning is transparent. Implicit language has implied meaning. The reader is required to read between the lines and look for the underlying meaning.
An example of explicit language comes in the first sentence. Whitney, a man on the boat, says to Rainsford: "Off there to the right - somewhere - is a large island." There is no extra layer to this statement.
Now switch to the last line of the story: "He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided." This is implicit language. The author is suggesting that because Rainsford is sleeping in Zaroff's bed, Rainsford killed Zaroff. It is a way of letting readers know this without announcing it.
Another way to refer to these terms is as follows: literal language (explicit) and figurative language (implicit).
Early in the story, the narrator establishes in the conversation between Rainsford and Whitney that they are both experienced big-game hunters; they explicitly recall hunting moose, as well as their intention to hunt jaguars in the Amazon.
Once Rainsford falls overboard, he strikes out in the direction of pistol shots that he had just heard. He hears "a high screaming sound, the sound of an animal in an extremity of anguish and terror." Interestingly, this experienced hunter does "not recognize the animal that made the sound." Given what he will discover on Ship Trap Island, it is implicit that what Rainsford has heard is the screaming of a man being pursued by a hunter. Because Rainsford has never experienced the particular barbarity of a human being being hunted, he is unable to recognize it as such at this point in the story.
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