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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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How do Rainsford in "The Most Dangerous Game" and the protagonist in "To Build a Fire" handle their conflicts?

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Both Rainsford and the man are in denial.  They each assume that they will be just fine.

The main in “To Build a Fire” is out in the wilderness with no survival instincts, and does not realize how much danger he is in.  Unlike the dog, which does understand the danger and know how to avoid it, the man is at a loss to even realize how bad his situation is in until it is too late.

Undoubtedly it was colder than fifty below—how much colder he did not know. But the temperature did not matter. 

The man’s denial is his downfall.  Rainsford is also in denial, but he manages to gather his wits enough to use his hunting knowledge and survival instincts to be successful.

In “The Most Dangerous Game,” Rainsford is also naïve and silly at first.  Curious, he accidentally falls off the boat into the water.  He manages to swim to the island, and he is appalled when he meets the man in charge.  General Zaroff captures men and hunts them for sport.  Rainsford does not realize that he’s next.

"You'll find this game worth playing," the general said enthusiastically." Your brain against mine. Your woodcraft against mine. Your strength and stamina against mine. Outdoor chess! And the stake is not without value, eh?"

If Rainsford had been more aware, he could have played along and pretended he could not wait to get out there and hunt some men.  Maybe he might have escaped then, or even managed to rescue some of them.

Rainsford survived, and the man who tried to build the fire did not.  In the end, only Rainsford was able to recognize and adapt to his situation.

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