In a second reading of "The Most Dangerous Game," what is an example of a scene having more significance once the plot and ending are known?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Richard Connell’s thriller “The Most Dangerous Game” is a work of commercial “slick” fiction which originally appeared in Collier’s Weekly in 1924. The story is mere entertainment and is not to be taken seriously except as an example of the basic elements of short story writing--e.g., protagonist, antagonist, motivation, setting. The characters have no depth. The author uses them simply to advance his plot, which is about a weird man who owns a private island and enjoys hunting human beings for sport. General Zaroff is said to be Russian, but the author could have made him practically anything as long as he was rich, eccentric, and addicted to hunting. Rainsford has the qualities necessary to make him “dangerous game” for Zaroff to be hunting: he is smart, resourceful, experienced in surviving in the outdoors. The author was mainly concerned about the emotion that would be evoked by his plot. He obviously did not know a great deal about tracking prey, human or animal, and he only had a smattering of knowledge about such things as Malay mancatchers and Burmese tiger pits, as his sketchy descriptions prove. His explanation of how Rainsford ends up on Zaroff’s island is hard to swallow—but he had to get Rainsford on the island somehow. Rainsford is supposed to be clever, a superior physical specimen, and a man of action, and yet he falls off the yacht in a shark-infested ocean in the middle of a pitch-dark night. The story has survived because the author creates an interesting situation and manages to evoke the emotions of a human who is being hunted like a wild animal by a cunning and sadistic man with a lifetime of hunting experience, high-tech weaponry, and a pack of dogs. It is sheer melodrama. Editors of the day would have called it “a good yarn.” Stories of this type rarely appear in magazines anymore, but they are standard fare on television and in movies. A film version of the story was made in 1932 under the same title. It was remade in 1945 with the title “A Game of Death” and again in 1956 as “Run for the Sun.” A similar story set in Africa was used in a very good movie titled “The Naked Prey” (1966).

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One good example of a significant scene comes in the first lies of the story. Rainsford is on a boat with his friend Whitney, and they are discussing hunting and related topics. Whitney is aware of a legend about a nearby island, one which the locals avoid:

"Off there to the right -- somewhere -- is a large island," said Whitney." It's rather a mystery--"

"What island is it?" Rainsford asked.

"The old charts call it 'Ship-Trap Island,"' Whitney replied." A suggestive name, isn't it? Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition--"
(Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game,"

At first, this seems like just another piece of ocean-related lore, superstition passed down by sailors because winds and rocks made that island a dangerous port. After he falls from the boat and is washed up on that same island, Rainsford discovers that the island deserves its reputation; General Zaroff imprisons the men who are shipwrecked on its shores and hunts them for sport. The island has rocky cliffs and the waves are harsh, making it an ideal place for ships to commonly crash; however, Zaroff helps nature along with a row of lights to indicate a safe channel directly into a cove of jagged rocks. While the island may have earned its name through natural means, it is now a literal "ship trap" and despite his curiosity, Rainsford would have been wise to avoid it.

pickford eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After you've read the story once, and know that the "most dangerous game" is the hunting of men, how does that knowledge change the way you read the beginning of the story on your second time through?  Look at the way the characters are portrayed and the setting is described.  Are there subtle hints (foreshadowing) in the beginning of the stroy that suggest the dark game at the end of the story?

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The Most Dangerous Game

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