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

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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

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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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