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

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

Start Free Trial

What early clues in "The Most Dangerous Game" foreshadow danger for Rainsford?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is a great deal of foreshadowing in "The Most Dangerous Game" that suggests that danger is in store for Rainsford

First off, even Whitney acknowledges within the first several lines that the name of the island they are sailing past is called "Ship-Trap Island." He comments that it's a "suggestive name" and that sailors have a "curious dread of the place." He later returns to the topic, stating that the place has a bad reputation and that even cannibals wouldn't dare live there. While Whitney is convinced that the place is evil, Rainsford thinks nothing of it. 

When Whitney and Rainsford are discussing the feelings of the jaguar they are about to hunt, Whitney comments that the jaguar understands a singular thing: "the fear of pain and the fear of death." Rainsford laughs this off, hardly realizing that he will soon be experiencing the same fear. 

Later that evening, Rainsford hears three gunshots preceded by an odd cry; these are the sounds of something being hunted on the island. At this point, he falls off the railing of the yacht and into the dark water-- an event which foreshadows his later intentional dive into the waters to escape Zaroff and his hounds. 

As he is swimming to shore, Rainsford hears a sound that he does not recognize as an animal sound, which is then cut short by a pistol shot. On the island, he sees the evidence of a struggle: bloodshed, empty cartridges, and the print of a hunting boot. 

All of this foreshadows the fact that Rainsford himself will be hunted and come face-to-face with his own mortality at the hands of the sadistic Zaroff. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first intimation of danger on the island occurs before Rainsford even swims to shore. He hears the cry of an animal being hunted; it is a piercing sound of an animal with which Rainsford is not familiar.

When Rainsford gets to shore and begins to explore the island, he finds empty gun shells. He assumes the gun was used to hunt the animal whose cry he did not recognize. Rainsford is puzzled as to why a hunter would use a small gun to hunt a large animal.

There is only a single house on the island, a looming, foreboding structure. General Zaroff's assistant, Ivan, is a huge person who is mute.

All of these details add up to masterful foreshadowing of the horror that Rainsford is to face. He discovers the horror while dining with General Zaroff and listening to the general describe his hunting habits and his prey.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What clues at the start of the story foreshadow danger for Rainsford?

In the short story "The Most Dangerous Game," there is some foreshadowing of the trouble toward which Rainsford is headed.  We get some foreshadowing from the title itself.  We can see from the title that something "dangerous" is going to happen.  As the story opens the mood of the setting helps set the tone of the story too.

At the very beginning of the story Rainsford is onboard a ship and has a converstation that gives clues.  The following quote is taken from the story by Richard Connell

"OFF THERE to the right--somewhere--is a large island," said Whitney." It's rather a mystery--"

"What island is it?" Rainsford asked.

"The old charts call it `Ship-Trap Island,"' Whitney replied." A suggestive name, isn't it? Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition--" (Book of Short Stories  page 293)

Rainsford hears a shot far off in the distance and when he falls overboard, as he is swimming to the island, he hears the cry of an "animal" that he cannot place.  These are all clues and I would have been swimming in the opposite direction.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on