What were the four traps used by Rainsford in "The Most Dangerous Game"?
The fact that the story closes with Rainsford crawling into General Zaroff's luxurious for a good night's sleep suggests that this type of story was often used by people for what used to be called "bedtime reading." The story was written in the days long before television, and many millions of people bought magazines full of escapist reading to take home with them. Such magazines have virtually disappeared because the same kinds of readers now watch television or DVDs for escapist entertainment after dinner and before going too sleep. Many people became so habituated to bedtime reading that they were hooked on it. They couldn't get to sleep without reading a story or a chapter in a novel. People with limited educations and limited reading ability would buy the pulp magazines, while people who were better educated and somewhat more discriminating would buy the "slicks," so called because they were printed on better-quality glossy paper and cost a little more. The editors of the "slicks" were more demanding. They wouldn't accept purely escapist manuscripts from their freelance contributors but wanted more realistic characterization and some degree of what they probably considered "social significance." (The social significance in "The Most Dangerous Game" has to do with the immorality of big-game hunting.) The editors also looked for better use of the English language. "The Most Dangerous Game" is obviously a slick adventure story designed for middle-class readers. The characters are sophisticated and financially secure, as compared to the cops, private detectives, and cowboys featured in the pulps. It is amusing that while the market for bedtime reading among adults has been drying up, the market for bedtime reading for children is still strong. Many children's books end with the viewpoint character going to sleep--and that is the intention. The mother or father reads the child a story and hopefully the little one is sound asleep by the last page. The story, in effect, gives the listener something to dream about. Nowadays many people have television sets in their bedrooms as well as in their living rooms, and they can fall asleep while watching some kind of fantasy on the video screen. As Shakespeare says in The Tempest: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep."
Rainsford uses his know-how from years of hunting to foil Zaroff. First he sets up a trap that when sprung will make a dead tree fall. Zaroff is hit on the shoulder, but is only grazed, so he continues to track Rainsford. Rainsford then flees into a swamp, where he digs a pit with sharp stakes, then dissimulates it with a grassy cover. This time it is Zaroff's favourite hunting dog which falls therein, but Rainsford misses his real target. Then he makes another trap by attaching a knife to a sapling, which springs back and kills Ivan, Zaroff's butler and henchman. Finally, Rainsford doubles back to the castle, and this time it is Zaroff himself who is taken by surprise in his own bedroom. It is this ambush that gives Rainsford the final advantage, and he finishes Zaroff off then and there, then crawls into Zaroff's own bed for a good night's sleep.