What is some sensory language in The Most Dangerous Game?

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juergems eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Most Dangerous Game" is a short story written by Richard Connell, in which a man named Sanger Rainsford finds himself trapped on an island, being hunted by a fierce predator—another man. General Zaroff, who felt he was not challenged enough with hunting animals, has been bringing people to his island to hunt for sport.

The sensory language in the story adds to the sense of suspense; the narrative wouldn't be nearly as effective if readers weren't able to take in Rainsford's surroundings.

Some good examples of sensory language in the story are: 

1) "It's like moist black velvet."

Rainsford uses this phrase to describe the "moonless Caribbean night" that he and Whitney are sailing through near the beginning of the story. This appeals to both the sense of sight and touch—we understand that what Rainsford is seeing is pitch black, like a rich black velvet, and that the night air feels humid and moist.

2) "The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea closed over his head." 

This sentence gives the reader a great sense of the feeling of the sea against Rainsford's skin—it's as warm as blood, like falling into a hot bath.

3) "The lights from the windows sent a flickering illumination that made grotesque patterns on the courtyard below, and Rainsford could see moving about there a dozen or so huge black shapes; as they turned toward him, their eyes glittered greenly."

This quote is all about sense of sight—it describes Rainsford's first impression of seeing Zaroff's fearsome hunting dogs. We not only know how they look to Rainsford but also understand the intimidating aura they give off.

4) "He knew his pursuer was coming; he heard the padding sound of feet on the soft earth, and the night breeze brought him the perfume of the general's cigarette."

This quote appeals to the sense of hearing and sense of smell, which are wrapped up together in one moment of tension as Rainsford waits for the General to fall into his trap.

There are plenty more examples in the story, but I think those are a few good ones to get you started!

Read the study guide:
The Most Dangerous Game

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