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

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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What are some complications in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford encounters General Zaroff, a man who hunts humans for sport. Zaroff tells Rainsford that he must escape the island before Zaroff's hunting party arrives to kill him.

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At the beginning of the story, Whitney, a hunting companion of Rainsford's, tells Rainsford:

The old charts call it "Ship-Trap Island." . . . A suggestive name, isn't it. Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition—

This quote foreshadows the horrors and...

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extreme complications that Rainsford is going to experience later in the story. Later that night, as Rainsford is relaxing, he hears a strange "abrupt sound." He realizes that it is a gun being fired. The noise interests him, and he "leap[s] upon the rail and balance[s] himself there, to get greater elevation."

While balanced on the rail, his pipe falls out of his mouth, and he tries to catch it. In the process, he loses his balance and falls into the Caribbean Sea. The yacht speeds away and leaves him in the sea. This is already a great conflict, but Rainsford's troubles have only begun.

He is able to swim to the island. Ironically, he thinks that he is safe:

All he knew was that he was safe from his enemy, the sea, and that utter weariness was on him.

Soon after, Rainsford meets General Zaroff, a man who reveals that he hunts humans for sport:

I wanted the ideal animal to hunt . . . It must have courage, cunning, and above all, it must be able to reason.

Rainsford questions Zaroff, reminding him that "what [he] speak[s] of is murder." Zaroff, however, tells Rainsford that he has "romantic ideas about the value of human life." He does not think it is wrong to hunt humans.

Finally, Rainsford asks what happens if a man refuses to play General Zaroff's game. He 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 has his own ideas of sport.

Rainsford has no choice: he must try to evade General Zaroff, or he will be tortured by Ivan. Rainsford's yacht trip ends up being filled with weighty complications.

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The first complication Rainsford faces is the sea.  After falling off the boat, he must fight the sea to survive.  That, however, was far from his biggest complication.   Although appearing civilized, General Zaroff is everything but civilized.  Rainsford discovers (to his horror)that Zaroff hunts other MEN, not animals.  Because Zaroff gives him no other choice, Rainsford must evade Zaroff for 3 days as he hunts him down. 

So Rainsford's first complication with Zaroff is successfully hiding from him in the jungle.  Although he feels he was able to keep hidden, he finds that Zaroff is only playing with him and chooses not to capture him on the first day.  Next, Rainsford places traps out for Zaroff, and they do not pan out for him either, as one of the dogs sets off his first trap, and Ivan is taken out in his second trap.  Rainsford does slightly injure Zaroff's shoulder, but it is not life threatening.  His final complication is making it back to the chateau without being caught and then facing Zaroff for the final battle. 

Many obstacles were in his way, yet he was able to maneuver his way through them and succeed in the end.

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