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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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What is the meaning of the following quote from "The Most Dangerous Game"?

"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 sea monster with wide open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut...'"

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What this quote means is that General Zaroff has his own way of making sure that enough ships get wrecked to supply him with sailors to hunt.  He is explaining Sanger Rainsford how his system works.

What he is saying is that he has set up a lighthouse of sorts.  But instead of having the light show the safe passage through the rocks, his light is actually luring ships onto rocks where they will be destroyed.

When the sailors from these ships come ashore, Zaroff will use them in his sick "game."

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In Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," this scene is when the villain gets caught monologuing, pridefully telling his enemy all of his evil secrets and schemes.

General Zaroff tells Rainsford how "Shiptrap Island" gets its name.  Whereas sailor lore explained it as a mystery (like the Bermuda triangle), Zaroff explains the method of how he wrecks ships to get his stock of sailors on his island to hunt.

Zaroff uses the light from his island to lure the ships into a narrow and shallow channel, and so the ships sink from the jagged rocks beneath.  The sailors swim to shore, and Ivan is waiting there to capture them.  Then, Zaroff hunts and kills them, one by one.

He finishes the quote off with a little Zaroff zinger, an analogy: the rocks can crush the hull of a ship the same way he can crush a nut.  Evil laughter to follow...

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"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." Explain this quote.

This quote comes from General Zaroff immediately after he explains to Rainsford that he hunts humans on the island in what he refers to as the most dangerous game. The above-mentioned quote is the general's response to Rainsford when he asks how he is able to get men on the island. General Zaroff explains to Rainsford that sometimes Providence intervenes and the high seas result in a shipwreck, which forces the unlucky passengers to swim to his island. The general then takes Rainsford to the window and proceeds to press a button, which lights a signal out at sea that indicates a channel. The passing ships see the signal and are deceived into sailing directly into jagged, dangerous rocks. The jagged, sharp rocks end up crushing ships and the sailors are forced to swim to the general's island, where they are hunted like animals. Essentially, the general deceives ships into sailing towards treacherous waters using a signal light that indicates a channel where there is none. Overall, the above-mentioned quote describes how General Zaroff draws men to Ship-Trap Island and emphasizes his maniacal personality.

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"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." Explain this quote.

I assume that you want an explanation of this passage from the short story, "The Most Dangerous Game." This is one of General Zaroff's special ways of luring his human game to the island. He has installed what appears to be legitimate signal lights to mark the safety of the channel. In truth, the channel is not safe; it is a false channel--"giant rocks with razor edges" cover the area. Ship captains cannot see the rocks, and they assume that the lights are marking a safe passage. The lights may be of little use during the day, but they can prove to be successful to General Zaroff's desire of wrecking as many ships as possible near his island at night. He then captures the survivors and uses them as his game.

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What is the significance of the following passage in "The Most Dangerous Game"? 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 sea monster with wide open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut."

This passage is significant because it shows how diabolical and clever the general has been.  He does not see anything wrong with tricking ships so that they get crushed on the rocks.  He thinks of no one but himself.  He is only interested in getting more sport for his game, as “he captures the shipwrecked sailors and forces them to play his game or be tortured and killed by Ivan” (enotes, The Most Dangerous Game, characters).

This is also when Rainsford realizes exactly what he is dealing with.  When Zaroff comments that he has electricity and they try to be civilized, the irony is not lost on Rainsford.

"Civilized? And you shoot down men?" (p. 10)

Rainsford, who “believes Zaroff's sport to be brutal and Zaroff himself to be a murderer” (enotes, characters), is playing with fire.  His captor Zaroff is annoyed when Rainsford suggests he is not playing fair.

I assure you I do not do the thing you suggest. That would be barbarous. I treat these visitors with every consideration. They get plenty of good food and exercise. They get into splendid physical condition. You shall see for yourself tomorrow. (p. 10)

Notice that Zaroff is not offended by being called a murderer.  He is offended by being called a bad sport.  Hunting humans is not a problem for Zaroff.  Although Rainsford could just play along and say he thinks it’s a fantastic game, he does not.  So this passage shows quite a lot about both men.

Read the full text here: http://www.classicreader.com/book/1317/1/

 

 

Read the summary here: http://www.enotes.com/most-dangerous-game/summary

Citations: 

Connell, Richard E. "The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell." The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell @ Classic Reader. Web. 14 May 2012. <http://www.classicreader.com/book/1317/1/>.

Enotes. "The Most Dangerous Game." Enotes.com. Enotes.com. Web. 14 May 2012. <http://www.enotes.com/most-dangerous-game/characters>.

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How can I paraphrase this paragraph from "The Most Dangerous Game"?"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 sea monster with wide open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut...'  

Paraphrasing involves rewording others' speech or the words of their texts without changing the general import of these words.  Therefore, in order to reword accurately phrases and sentences taken from narratives, for instance, the reader will also need to examine the context of the phrases and sentences to be paraphrased.

Regarding the passage quoted above, the context of these words of General Zaroff are early in the short story "The Most Dangerous Game." On the first night of Rainsford's arrival on Ship-Trap Island, he has mistakenly sought refuge at the castle of the general; later, after having bathed and dressed for dinner, Rainsford is conducted by Ivan to the dining room.  There, the general, who has "an almost bizarre quality to his face," entertains Rainsford.  In the course of their conversation, the general explains that he hunts "more dangerous game" than the big game that Rainsford seeks which for the general has lost its challenge.  So, the general says with great import, he now hunts the "idea quarry" that has courage, cunning, and "above all, it must be able to reason."  Horrified, Rainsford understands the implications of Zaroff's declaration.

When Rainsford tells Zaroff that his actions are "cold-blooded murder," the general laughs; he insists that he is a hunter, not a murderer, rationalizing that "life is for the strong....Why should I not use my gift?"  With equal sang-froid, he then explains how his prey arrives on the island.

Taking Rainsford to the window, he exclaims, "Watch Out there!"  At first Rainsford can see nothing but blackness; however, after the general presses a button, there are beckons of light far out on the sea.  These lights, the general laughing explains, are the types of lights that normally indicate a channel for ships to enter safely at night.  However, once the ships head in the direction of the lights, they soon strike razor-sharp rocks that crush their hulls, sinking them.  Then, in order to demonstrate the tremendous crushing action of the monster rocks, the general drops a walnut on the hardwood floor and grinds it with his heel.

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Can you paraphrase the following quote? "'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.'"

The secret to paraphrasing well is to capture the essence of the quote without going into detail and producing a paraphrase that is the same length or much longer than the original. To do this it is important to identify what the essential or most important sections of the quote are and what can be safely ignored in the paraphrase. In the quote linked to this question, what is clearly important is General Zaroff's strategy to catch sailors on his island through the false lights and also the joy and cunning he demonstrates. His complete lack of compassion is also evident through the line that comes straight after this quote, where he demonstrates to Rainsford what he can do to a nut:

He dropped a walnut on the hardwood floor and brought his heel grinding down on it.

The quote therefore demonstrates Zaroff's savagery and lack of compassion towards fellow humans, and this is the essence that would need to be captured into a paraphrase. An example might be something like:

Zaroff explains to Rainsford how he has used lights to make sailors believe there is a safe channel, whereas in fact there is only danger, ensuring there are shipwrecks and a supply of sailors for his hunting of humans.

Such a quote therefore captures the key parts of the quote whilst also summarising the overall content.

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