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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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Discussion Topic

General Zaroff's methods for acquiring and luring his prey in "The Most Dangerous Game."

Summary:

General Zaroff acquires and lures his prey through deceptive means. He uses misleading lights to guide ships into dangerous rocks, causing shipwrecks. Survivors are then brought to his mansion, where they are offered a choice: be hunted or face certain death. Zaroff's cunning traps and psychological manipulation ensure that his prey has little chance of survival.

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How does General Zaroff lure people into his game in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Following Rainsford's first dinner with the general, Zaroff explains his philosophy on life by telling Rainsford that he believes the weak people in the world were put on earth to give the stronger people pleasure. When Rainsford asks how the general traps the men on his island, Zaroff proceeds to explain that sometimes the high seas send them to him, while other times he has to influence the ships by flashing a light in the middle of the sea. This indicates a channel, which leads the ship into dangerous territory. General Zaroff then walks to the window and presses a button, which flashes the channel light out at sea. Essentially, Zaroff tricks sailors into traveling toward the false channel, where their ships crash against sharp rocks and sink. The sailors are then forced to swim toward Ship-Trap Island, where the general captures and hunts them.

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How does General Zaroff lure people into his game in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

There's no real evidence how many men General Zaroff has hunted down in the Richard Connell short story "The Most Dangerous Game." We do know that Sanger Rainsford is not Zaroff's first intended victim since Rainsford heard gunshots before falling off his yacht (although the shots may not have been intended for a human victim), and later he heard screaming and more gunfire as he swam toward the island. Rainsford discovers the terrible truth following dinner when Zaroff tells him

"We'll visit my training school," smiled the general. "It's in the cellar. I have about a dozen pupils down there now. They're from the Spanish bark San Lucar that had the bad luck to go on the rocks out there. A very inferior lot, I regret to say. Poor specimens and more accustomed to the deck than to the jungle."

Zaroff's lure is his home, Ship-Trap Island, which has apparently claimed many ships over the years. No one volunteers for service, but Zaroff is always awaiting shipwreck survivors to swim ashore and provide him his unusual entertainment.

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How does General Zaroff lure people into his game in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

    At eNotes, it is preferable to answer only one question at a time, so you may want to repost the remainder of these. However...

1.  Rainsford was stunned and bewildered at this monstrous proposal. He replied, "Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder."

2.  Ship-Trap Island is aptly named. Zaroff has set up a system of flashing lights that indicate "a channel where there's none. Giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster..." Ships run aground, and he and Ivan lure the survivors ashore before imprisoning them for "the game."

3.  After rescuing the shipwrecked sailors, Zaroff gets them in hunting shape.  "I treat these visitors with every consideration. They get plenty of good food and exercise. They get into splendid physical condition. You shall see for yourself tomorrow." 

4.  Zaroff gives his human prey a head start and then he stalks them. "It's a game, you see," pursued the general blandly. "I suggest to one of them that we go hunting. I give him a supply of food and an excellent hunting knife. I give him three hours' start. I am to follow, armed only with a pistol of the smallest caliber and range. If my quarry eludes me for three whole days, he wins the game. If I find him"--the general smiled--"he loses."

5.  Zaroff wants to make sure that his "guests" realize there's no chance to escape playing the game. He may not tell all of his prisoners about the dogs, but he informs Rainsford. "They are let out at seven every night. If anyone should try to get into my house--or out of it--something extremely regrettable would occur to him." 

6.  Rainsford loves to hunt big game animals, but hunting humans is simply murder. Zaroff, the Cossack, is a barbarian; Rainsford is not. "Thank you, I'm a hunter, not a murderer." 

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How does General Zaroff lure people into his game in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Basically, Zaroff gets people to play the game by forcing them to do it.  He makes it so that playing is the best option that the people have.

So how could this be?  How could your best option be to run off and try to hide while some guy comes to hunt you and kill you if he catches you?  Well, it is the best option if your other option is that you will die for sure and die for sure in a more painful way.

So what Zaroff tells them is that if they do not let him hunt them, he will give them to Ivan and Ivan will kill them in terrible ways.  Here is the quote that shows this:

"Oh," said the general, "I give him his option, of course. He need not play that game if he doesn't wish to. If he does not wish to hunt, I turn him over to Ivan. Ivan once had the honor of serving as official knouter to the Great White Czar, and he has his own ideas of sport. Invariably, Mr. Rainsford, invariably they choose the hunt."

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How does General Zaroff lure people into his game in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

General Zaroff lives for hunting as he mentions to Rainsford when they first meet. He travelled the world looking for an animal that could match his wits, speed or strength. Zaroff lost all the joy he felt in life when he could not locate an animal to match his hunting skills.

Zaroff notes "I had no wish to go to pieces," so he would import the largest and most dangerous game possible - humans. Plus, the humans are given the opportunity for a headstart, plus a pistol. If the humans outsmart him for three days, they are returned to civilization. Zaroff assures himself that he is being fair to the "animal" by giving the soon to be victim these allowances.

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How did General Zaroff arrive at the island in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

General Zaroff bought the island after he got bored with hunting ordinary game. 

Zaroff was an aristocrat that got forced out of Russia with the revolution.  His family had been very rich, and he managed to hold onto his money despite the economic turmoil that followed.  

"After the debacle in Russia I left the country, for it was imprudent for an officer of the Czar to stay there. Many noble Russians lost everything. I, luckily, had invested heavily in American securities, so I shall never have to open a tearoom in Monte Carlo or drive a taxi in Paris.  …” 

Zaroff continued to travel the world hunting more and more exotic game, but it was boring for him.  He had been a hunter since he was a child, and it was the only thing he found exciting in life.  When Rainsford asks Zaroff what new animal he found to hunt, Zaroff explains the purpose of the island.

"I never joke about hunting. I needed a new animal. I found one. So I bought this island built this house, and here I do my hunting. The island is perfect for my purposes--there are jungles with a maze of traits in them, hills, swamps--"

The island had a reputation as dangerous among sailors.  It was called Ship-Trap Island.  Zaroff seeded the island with prey by placing lights to indicate a channel where there was none.  Ships would get grounded there and he would take the sailors prisoner.  These he forced to play his game.

Rainsford is horrified that Zaroff is actually hunting people on his island.  He knows that he is trapped on the island and has no way off.  He calls Zaroff’s activities murder, but Zaroff thinks he is being Puritanical.  In Zaroff’s world-view, only the strong deserve to survive.   He is strong, so he wins.

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Why did General Zaroff first come to the island in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

During Rainsford's first meal with General Zaroff, the general elaborates on his affinity for hunting and mentions that he has hunted nearly every exotic, dangerous animal on the planet. The general proceeds to tell Rainsford that he became bored hunting dangerous animals because they could only rely upon their instincts and failed to present him with a true challenge. After briefly losing his desire to hunt, General Zaroff had the idea to hunt humans and needed a secluded place where he could murder people for game without being arrested and imprisoned. The general tells Rainsford

I needed a new animal. I found one. So I bought this island built this house, and here I do my hunting. The island is perfect for my purposes—there are jungles with a maze of traits in them, hills, swamps.

Essentially, General Zaroff purchased the island in the middle of the Caribbean for the sole purpose of hunting humans on it. On Ship-Trap Island, the general hunts unfortunate individuals, who are forced to swim to his island after their ships sink in the treacherous waters.

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Why did General Zaroff first come to the island in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

The reason that General Zaroff came to this island was so that he would have some place where he would be able to hunt human beings.

General Zaroff tells Rainsford that he had hunted every kind of animal.  He had tried every animal that was supposed to be smart and hard to hunt.  He did this because he wanted a challenge.  But every single one of those animals disappointed him.  None of them was smart enough to challenge him.  So he decided to start hunting people and he bought this island so he could do that.  Here is the relevant quote:

I needed a new animal. I found one. So I bought this island built this house, and here I do my hunting.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," when and why does General Zaroff first come to his island?

During the dinner with Zaroff on his first night on the island after falling off his yacht, Rainsford learns many of the details of the general's life. Zaroff comes from noble heritage and from the time he was five years old he was hunting. Indeed, hunting had become the general's passion from the time he was a small boy. For a time he served in the Russian military and fought for those troops still loyal to the Czar after the Russian Revolution in 1917. After their defeat, he was able to sustain himself because he had invested in "American securities" and remained financially secure, allowing him to travel, hunting big game throughout the world. Eventually, however, he grew bored with hunting animals. He had become too skilled in the pursuit of beasts, so he invented "a new animal to hunt." The new animal, of course, was man, who, like Zaroff, had the ability to reason. In order to pursue his pastime he bought the island off the coast of South America and built a great chateau where he kept the men who were shipwrecked on his island in dungeons before he hunted them. Zaroff describes his island:

"This island is perfect for my purposes—there are jungles with a maze of trails in them, hills, swamps—"

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," when and why does General Zaroff first come to his island?

General Zaroff is from the Russian aristocracy. During the Russian Revolution of 1917, there was a bad defeat against upper-class Russians like Zaroff. Like most aristocracy, he then left Russia and spent years hunting in places such as Africa. Later, he heard about the great hunt available in the Amazon, but once there, he realized he was beyond traditional hunting. It was no longer a challenge for him and he was bored. He decided that instead of quiting the sport he would hunt a "new animal" and bought the island on which to do so.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," what are General Zaroff's reasons for being on the island?

General Zaroff has secluded himself to the island for two main reasons:

First, he has made it his passion to hunt human beings instead of animals. This practice would not be tolerated in civilized society, so he creates his own hunting preserve where laws cannot touch him. The island is both a prison for the men on it, and a place where others cannot find him and tell his tale to the world.

Secondly, Zaroff is hiding from his past. As a former Cossack, he would be persecuted in his native Russia, in England, and in America. Instead, he spent years traveling the world and hunting, until he finally became bored with unreasoning animals. On the island, he can live like a nobleman, with fine foods and servants, and still indulge his passion for hunting without worry about his past catching up with him.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does General Zaroff acquire his game for hunting?

After Rainsford hears of General Zaroff’s game, he is horrified.  He calls the general a murderer. The general considers the hunt a very civilized game.  He tells Rainsford,

“Dear me, what a righteous young man you are! I assure you that I do not do the thing you suggest.  That would be barbarous.” (pg 6)

He very carefully outlines for Rainsford how the game is played.  He traps the sailors with the use of lights that indicate a channel where no channel exists.  There are only jagged rocks.  The ships crash, and Zaroff takes the men and imprisons them in his cellar.  He still thinks he is civilized when he says,

“I treat these visitors with every consideration.  They get plenty of good food and exercise.  They get into splendid physical condition.  You shall see for yourself tomorrow.” (pg 6)

Zaroff then tells Rainsford about his training school.  Once they are trained, Zaroff “suggests” to one of them that they go hunting. 

“I give him a supply of food and an excellent hunting knife.  I give him three hours’ start.  I am to follow, armed only with a pistol of the smallest caliber and range.  If the quarry eludes me for three whole days, he wins the game.  If I find him…… he loses. “ (pg 6)

Rainsford asks two questions at this time.  First, what if the man wins?  He is told that it has never happened.  One almost won, but the general brought out his dogs, and that was the end of that hunt.  Secondly, Rainsford wants to know what happens if the person refuses to hunt.  Zaroff explains,

“I give him his option, of course.  He need not play that game if he doesn’t wish to.  If he does not wish to hunt, I turn him over to Ivan.  Ivan once had the honor of serving as official knouter to the Great White Czar, and he had his own ideas of sport.  Invariably, Mr. Rainsford, invariably they choose the hunt.” (pg 6)

A knout was a whip used in Russia.  So Ivan had been the person who whipped people for the Great White Czar of Russia.  The candidates for the game would prefer to handle their own fate against Zaroff than be whipped to death.  Zaroff felt he was giving them a fair choice. 

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Where and how does General Zaroff procure his ''game''?

In "The Most Dangerous Game" General Zaroff tells Rainsford that he procures his game in several ways. He tells him that the name of the island being Ship Trap Island means there are a lot of shipwrecks and he gets the survivors. If that doesn't work, he has lights posted to make the seamen think there is a channel where there is none and the ships wreck on the rocks of the reef.

More information on this great story can be found at the following link.

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