silhouette of a man with one eye open hiding in the jungle

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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What conclusion can be drawn about the General's decision regarding dogs, and what is the outcome of Rainsford's "game"? What impact has the "game" had on Rainsford? Discuss the mood at the start of the story, the 22 shell's significance, Ivan's loyalty to General Zaroff, the irony in Zaroff's quote, and whether Rainsford's jump was out of fear or a planned trap.

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Richard Connel's short story "The Most Dangerous Game" is about a deadly duel in an island jungle between two big game hunters. It is an excellent read with plenty of intrigue and suspense.

33. Showing Rainsford his pack of dogs early in the story serves as foreshadowing for later when Zaroff uses the dogs to track Rainsford. Rainsford is successful in killing Zaroff's best dog, Lazarus, as well as the general's servant, Ivan.

34. With no other option, as Zaroff and his dogs move in on him, Rainsford jumps from a cliff into the ocean below. Both Zaroff, and the reader, think Rainsford is dead. As he relaxes in his chateau the general looks back on the recent events:

Two slight annoyances kept him from perfect enjoyment. One was the thought that it would be difficult to replace Ivan; the other was that his quarry had escaped him; of course, the American hadn't played the game--so thought the general as he tasted his after- dinner liqueur. 

35. The game has a very profound effect on Rainsford. Earlier in the story he says that he believes that hunted animals have no feelings of fear. Once he becomes the hunted he realizes just what it is like to be "a beast at bay." The reader may assume that Rainsford will never hunt again after his experience with Zaroff.

1. At the beginning of the story there is a mood of foreboding and that something sinister is about to happen. Connel is building suspense for the action to follow. Whitney tells Rainsford that the captain and crew of the yacht they are traveling on are very much on edge as the ship passes a mysterious island, nicknamed "Ship-Trap" island. Whitney says,

"Yes, even that tough-minded old Swede, who'd go up to the devil himself and ask him for a light. Those fishy blue eyes held a look I never saw there before. All I could get out of him was `This place has an evil name among seafaring men, sir.' Then he said to me, very gravely, `Don't you feel anything?'--as if the air about us was actually poisonous. Now, you mustn't laugh when I tell you this--I did feel something like a sudden chill. 

2. While still on the yacht, Rainsford hears a gunshot. After he falls into the sea and gets to the island he hears another shot and a scream from an animal he can't recognize. He assumes someone has been hunting and, when he finds a small caliber (.22) shell, he is amazed that the hunter used such a light weapon to hunt a large animal. Rainsford says,

"A twenty-two," he remarked. "That's odd. It must have been a fairly large animal too. The hunter had his nerve with him to tackle it with a light gun. It's clear that the brute put up a fight. I suppose the first three shots I heard was when the hunter flushed his quarry and wounded it. The last shot was when he trailed it here and finished it." 

3. Ivan is the deaf, mute servant that lives on the island and caters to the general. Ivan probably feels an almost militaristic duty toward Zaroff. They fought together in the Russian civil war and Ivan is totally loyal to his former commander.

4. Amenities are features that provide comfort, convenience or pleasure. The general has many amenities on the island, including a beautiful chateau, fine food and wine and a large library. It is ironic that the general considers himself and what he is doing on the island as civilized because his hunting of men is a totally savage act and one might consider Zaroff far from civilized.

5. Rainsford had hoped to kill Zaroff with the Ugandan knife trap, but the general survives as the knife kills Ivan. Rainsford's last chance is to jump into the sea and try to swim for the chateau which is across the cove. We know that Rainsford is a strong swimmer from earlier in the story when he swims from the yacht to the island. It is obviously a calculated risk on Rainsford's part to jump, but, as we know, it works out and at the end Rainsford "had never slept in a better bed". 

 

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