The Most Dangerous Game is a short story authored by Richard Connell published in 1924. It is a story about a hunter becoming the hunted. The main character Sanger Rainsford accompanied by his partner Whitney set out on a journey from New York to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The two are on a mission to hunt the Jaguar, a big cat in South America.
The play notes here that Rainsford loves hunting to an extent that he calls it the best sport in the world. In the course of their discussion over their ability in hunting wild animals, they are terrified suddenly by gunshots and screams. This occurs at night.
The scare makes Rainsford to fall of their boat into the Caribbean Sea in trying to rescue his pipe. The circumstance did not allow him to swim back to the boat. He then swims to an island, which is in the direction that the yells and gunshots had come from. This island also happens to be a Ship-Trap zone. On the Island, Rainsford finds two inhabitants living in a palatial mansion. General Zaroff is the owner of the Island and an astute hunter.
The second person is Zaroff’s servant who is deaf and mute. His name is Ivan. It is surprising that after introduction, Zaroff has heard of Rainsford from the books he has read about him hunting leopards in Tibet, China. They then have dinner together. This is followed by Zaroff’s explanation to Rainsford on how he got bored with hunting wild animals because the adventure did not bring challenges anymore.
His adventure surprises Rainsford who even after persuasion refused to join. Zaroff says that he now captures sailors, whose ships are wrecked; he then sends them to the forest with food, dressed in full hunting regalia and a knife. The sailors now become his target and turns to hunt and kill them. Being a determined General, he sets his limits to three days. If by the third day neither Ivan, his hunting dogs nor himself have killed the prey, he lets them go.
However, his hunting skills had never allowed an escape to occur. Rainsford turns down the offer to join the hunting of human beings. Zaroff gives him two options. To become either the next prey to be hunted or Ivan whips him to death. Rainsford chooses the former.
This is a dangerous game pitting Rainsford on one side and Zaroff’s entire team of Ivan and the dogs on the other side. It is the use of stamina and strength with the show of intelligence. Zaroff makes sure that Rainsford gets the normal treatment of a captive including giving him food supplies and instructions. The challenge is risky but very intriguing. Rainsford starts by hiding his hunting tactics. He climbs a tree where he is very visible.
This serves to convince Zaroff that Rainsford is an easy prey, and immediately turns it into game. The next flow of events actually proves that Rainsford is a guru in hunting. He sets a trap made of a heavy log joined to a trip wire. The first casualty is Zaroff. His shoulder is injured sending him back to the mansion to sleep. The trap he uses here, he calls it, a Malay man catcher. Day one is done and Rainsford knows that he has two to go.
His trap on day two killed one of Zaroff’s hounds. This is a trap he nicknames the Burmese tiger pit. The third trap a native Ugandan knife kills his servant Ivan. Rainsford then throws himself over the cliff and swims back to the mansion to evade Zaroff. On returning home, the presence of Rainsford in his bed curtains causes Zaroff to salute him. Rainsford refuses this and challenges him for a fight. He is confident that he can handle him.
Rainsford considers the hunting of human beings as cold blood murder. The general takes the challenge. The challenge affects both, that whoever looses the duel would be fed to the dogs and the winner will sleep on Zaroff’s bed. Rainsford expressed that he had never slept on a better bed before. This implies that he killed Zaroff.
Reading this play, we can see conflict between man and wild animals. This appears to be acceptable in the story. At the beginning, Rainsford and his partner proudly talk about their experiences in hunting. They are also on a hunting mission to hunt a jaguar. Furthermore, Zaroff who also explains to Rainsford how he was a good hunter of wild animals before he sort new challenges has featured Rainsford in books for his hunting skills as read.
Zaroff introduces the second conflict that is between men. Zaroff launches his new adventure of killing people. He uses his wealth to prove his inhuman actions. He is chasing people just to kill them like wild animals. This was in fact, the cause of his death at the end of the play.