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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," what happens to men who choose not to be hunted?

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In the short story “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell, people who refuse to be hunted are beaten to death by Ivan, a giant of a man who used to whip people to death for the Czar of Russia.

In this story, the villain is a man named General Zaroff.  Zaroff lives on “Ship Trap Island,” which is somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. Zaroff’s life passion is hunting. During his career as a hunter, he eventually became bored because hunting wild animals is too easy. He decided he wanted to hunt human beings since they are intelligent and would be more challenging to hunt. Humans are “the most dangerous game” to which the story’s title refers. Zaroff obtained Ship Trap Island and uses shipwrecked sailors (including some whose ships were wrecked thanks to false navigational lights that Zaroff rigged up at sea) as his prey.

When Zaroff tells Rainsford this, Rainsford wonders how he gets the men to agree to be hunted. Zaroff tells Rainsford that the men have the choice of possible death in the hunt or certain death at the hands of Ivan. When Rainsford asks, “Suppose he refuses to be hunted,” Zaroff replies,

"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."

As you can see in this link, the knout was a brutal whip used in Russia to flog criminals. Very often, the criminal was beaten to death. Ivan performed this duty for the Czar and, Zaroff implies, enjoys inflicting pain on people.

The answer to your question, then, is that people who refuse to be hunted are handed over to Ivan to be beaten to death.

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In Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," what happens to those who refuse to be hunted?

As a "gentleman" hunter, Zaroff gives his human prey the opportunity to not be hunted. It is a choice that the men make; however, it is not much of a choice that Zaroff is giving these poor souls. Not long after realizing that Zaroff's prey is humans, Rainsford asks the general what happens if a man refuses to be hunted.

"If I find him"—the general smiled—"he loses."

"Suppose he refuses to be hunted?"

Zaroff's answer is a straightforward and chilling answer. Zaroff tells Rainsford that the men that refuse to be hunted are turned over to Ivan. Zaroff also includes in his answer what Ivan used to do before being employed on the island:

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.

A "knouter" is someone who beats criminals or captives with a leather whip. Zaroff's captives have all chosen to be hunted because they all realize that they have a chance being hunted. If they choose Ivan, they are guaranteed to be beaten to a pulp and likely killed by Ivan. Ivan is guaranteed pain and suffering. Being hunted and surviving for three days is potential freedom. Additionally, Zaroff gives his prey a weapon. That is not an option with Ivan, so once again, the thought of being hunted seems like the better choice.

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In Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," what happens to those who refuse to be hunted?

Most of the men choose to hunt.  However, if they choose not to, they are turned over to Ivan.  In the text, Connell says,

"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."

They are given a knife and some food, so they think that they can survive.  Zaroff is too good, though, because he has not yet been beaten in his new hunting game.

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