From Mark Twain to Amy Tan, American authors have refined the narrative form beyond what the Greeks and subsequent practitioners of the literary form have achieved. One of the most anthologized American narratives--"The Most Dangerous Game"--provides evidence of the American talent for incorporating narrative conventions, multiple conflict types, and language that achieves symbolic purpose. Thus, readers of this Richard Connell classic are given a lesson in perfect narrative form.
Clearly, the author provides evidence of a sinister plot line in the exposition phase of the story. Connell sets the tone of the story right away with dialogue between two characters, Whitney and Rainsford. Whitney is describing a mysterious island to Rainsford, the unfortunate protagonist who will end up on that very island. The two are aboard a yacht headed for Brazil for big game hunting. Whitney comments about a distant, mysterious island called Ship Trap Island that sailors dread and try to avoid at all cost. Whitney states even cannibals wouldn't live on Ship Trap Island. Connell establishes fear and dread by speaking of a dark "moonless Caribbean night” and eerie atmosphere out on the dark still ocean. Connell also uses the color red throughout story to highlight the blood, violence, and death on Ship-Trap Island. For example, Connell describes seas as the “blood-warm waters.” Connell describes a patch of weeds as “stained crimson.” Connell uses the color red to link the lust of murder and violence.
In the beginning of the story, Rainsford exhibits a harsh attitude toward the animals he hunts. He believes that the world consists only of predators and prey. Rainsford is alone on deck and falls overboard the ship is gone, so he swims to the island. On the Island, he finds a thick jungle and, of all things a majestic chateau owned by General Zaroff. Connelle lets you know right away General Zaroff is the story’s antagonist. Zaroff is a former aristocratic Cossack commander and Russian big game hunter. Zaroff tells Rainsford he is aware he is also big game hunter tells Rainsford he has read all his books on hunting. During the dinner that night while enjoying champagne, borsch and filet mignon, Zaroff comments on how he maintains his aristocratic lifestyle in his majestic chateau on the bluff here on the remote Island where he now enjoys hunting. He tells Rainsford how he became bored with killing the typical game, and now only hunts the animal that can reason. Rainsford then realizes Zaroff is referring to hunting humans. General Zaroff asks Rainsford to join him on his next hunt, but Rainsford refuses and states,“Great guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder.”
Connell also shows his expertise by incorporating multiple conflict types in the narrative: Human vs. Nature, Human vs. Human, and Human vs. Self. Connell gives readers multiple conflicts. First readers see Human vs Nature – Rainsford falls overboard and has to struggle against...