What is the tone of the story?
There is a scary and menacing tone to the story “The Most Dangerous Game.” At the very beginning of the story, Rainsford’s friend, Whitney, talks of a mysterious island called Ship-Trap that fills most sailors with dread.
When Rainsford falls off the yacht and swims his way to Ship-Trap Island, he learns firsthand why the island has such a bad reputation among seafarers. The island, Ship-Trap, belongs to a Cossack, General Zaroff, who hunts human beings for the thrill of it. Zaroff is highly skilled at his sport. When humans land on his island, he offers them two options: to be hunted by him or to be knouted by Ivan, the giant servant. Both options present dreadful eventualities to the victims, who are essentially trapped with no escape. Rainsford is also faced with these two options and chooses to be hunted by Zaroff.
Though a hunter himself, Rainsford has to contend with Zaroff’s excellent hunting skills, experience, and the fact that this hunter is well acquainted with the hunting grounds. Throughout the chase, the reader can feel the danger and the tension in the air. Rainsford is terrified when he realizes that Zaroff is “playing with him” like “a cat plays with a mouse before finally killing it.” The gravity of his situation sinks in, and he realizes that he has to “play” for his life: either he lives or he dies.