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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does General Zaroff "stock" his island?

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General Zaroff stocks his island by misdirecting passing ships using a simulated lighthouse. Rather than directing the ships to safety, the light leads the ships to the rocky shore. Those sailors able to swim to shore from the resulting shipwreck are captured and held prisoner until the General once again needs game to prey upon.

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General Zaroff lives on an island known to sailors as Ship Trap Island. Sailors believe there is something mysterious about the island that captures the ships and crews and so the mood on the boat as they begin to sail passed it becomes very subdued and ominous. Like so many ships that sailed before them Rainsford's ship and crew fall victim to the "trap". It is not until Rainsford is inside General Zaroff's palatial estate that he learns the mystery behind the trap. General Zaroff shows Rainsford from a window that it is actually he who traps the ships. He then uses the sailors who wash up on shore as his "stock" for his most dangerous game.

"This island is called Ship-Trap," he answered. "Sometimes, an angry god of the high seas sends them to me. Sometimes, when Providence is not so kind, I help Providence a bit. Come to the window with me. . ." Rainsford saw a flash of light. The general chuckled. "They indicate a channel where there's none, giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide open jaws. . ."

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When General Zaroff turns on the lights for his fake channel to trap ships, he deliberately makes the approach deadly because he misdirects the ships to "giant rocks with razor edges [that] crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws." The lights indicate a channel "where there is none," he says to Rainsford. When the ships wreck, the survivors of the wreck become Zaroff's prisoners and therefore his "game."

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How does Zaroff stock the island with game in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

General Zaroff stocks his island with game from ships that run aground on the giant rocks.

General Zaroff is a diabolical man, who got so bored with hunting that he decided that no animal could challenge him anymore.  Instead, he decided to hunt human beings.  When a famed hunter named Rainsford falls off a ship and lands on his on Zaroff’s island, he is shocked to learn that Zaroff is hunting men.

Zaroff comments that the island is known as Ship-Trap Island for a reason, because it is dangerous to ships due to the rocks and stormy seas.  “Providence” often sends him ships run aground full of sailors to use as “game” for his hunting.  However, if he doesn’t get any men this way, he can stock his island himself by a system he has devised.  He shows Rainsford that he can push a button and lights will blink.

The general chuckled. "They indicate a channel," he said, "where there's none; giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut."

This demonstrates Zaroff’s callousness and cruelty.  He is not only willing to kill men, he will also capture them wholesale with a fake light that tells ships it is safe to cross the water, when in reality it is not.  Zaroff does not just hunt men in a fair game.  He quite possibly sends them to their death with his fake safe passage lights.

Zaroff thinks of no one but himself.  His needs are paramount over everyone else’s.  If he is bored, that is all that matters.  The fact that he laughs shows the depths of his depravity.  If he wants to play a game, why not kill or capture men by the dozens and hundreds?  What does it matter?  He scoffs when Rainsford considers what does murder, and he tells Rainsford he is civilized, but he is nothing but a callous and selfish murderer.

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How does Zaroff stock his island with game?

There are two ways that General Zaroff gets people on to his island so that he can hunt them down and kill them.

First, the island is in a particularly dangerous place in the ocean.  It is very easy for ships to wreck near the island just because that's the way the ocean is.

Second, though, Zaroff does not just rely on chance.  He has a light set up to lure ships to go the wrong way.  That way, he can make sure that some ships wreck if he is running low on people to hunt.

Here is the relevant passage:

This island is called Ship Trap," he answered. "Sometimes an angry god of the high seas sends them to me. Sometimes, when Providence is not so kind, I help Providence a bit. Come to the window with me."

Rainsford went to the window and looked out toward the sea.

"Watch! Out there!" exclaimed the general, pointing into the night. Rainsford's eyes saw only blackness, and then, as the general pressed a button, far out to sea Rainsford saw the flash of lights.

The general chuckled. "They indicate a channel," he said, "where there's none; giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut."

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How does Zaroff stock his island with game?

General Zaroff stocks his island with game by causing ships to become shipwrecked on his island.  He has a light that would indicate a channel where there is no channel, but rather treacherous rocks. When he turns on the light, ships navigate toward the light, thinking it will provide safe passage through the channel.  Instead, they run aground and are trapped on Zaroff's island where they become his prey.

The reason why Zaroff hunts men, instead of traditional game is because he has become bored with hunting animals because they lack the ability to reason.  He thought that by hunting humans they would present him with a challenge since they would be able to reason and in order to kill them he would need to outwit them. With that in mind, it could be said that the way in which Zaroff stocks his island is part of the hunt itself because it provides him with a challenge.

 

 

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In Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," how does Zaroff stock his island with game?

When Rainsford and General Zaroff are speaking about different types of game, Rainsford says that he has heard that the most dangerous game is Cape buffalo. General Zaroff says the following:

"No. You are wrong, sir. The Cape buffalo is not the most dangerous big game . . . Here in my preserve on this island . . . I hunt the most dangerous game."

Surprised, Rainsford asks what is on the island, and Zaroff says, "Oh, it isn't here naturally, of course. I have to stock the island." Rainsford asks his host what type of animals he has on the island, but Zaroff refrains from explicitly saying what he stocks for awhile. After a long story about his hunting life, Zaroff finally gives Rainsford enough clues to suggest that he hunts men. Once the answer is out, Zaroff explains that he only hunts "the scum of the earth--sailors from tramp ships." To further explain how he stocks his island, General Zaroff says the following:

"This island is called Ship-Trap . . . Sometimes an angry god of the high seas sends them to me. Sometimes, when Providence is not so kind, I help Providence a bit. Come to the window."

Then, General Zaroff shows Rainsford that from a push of a button at his window he can control lights on the island that signal boats towards an imaginary channel. When boats head for the channel, they actually run into "giant rocks with razor edges . . . [that] can crush a ship as easily" as a nut. The whole island is a trap for luring ships in so they will wreck. As a result, men who make it to the island are placed in Zaroff's "training school" where they will eventually be hunted when they are ready to play the game. Therefore, Zaroff says that sometimes Providence leads his quarry to his island; and other times, he gets his men from shipwrecks that he purposefully creates using his "harbor" lights. 

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How does Zaroff stock his island with "game" in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

General Zaroff found the perfect place for him to practice his most dangerous game. Ship-Trap Island proves to live up to its name. Surrounded by "giant rocks with razor edges," passing the island is dangerous for any ship, but Zaroff has added another twist. He has placed flashing lights "to indicate a channel... where's there's none." By pressing a button, he can turn the lights on and off at his discretion. Ships then crash upon the rocks, and Zaroff captures the surviving sailors, placing them in a cellar. He calls it his "training school," where he feeds the sailors until they are healthy enough to provide Zaroff with his human prey.

 

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