Library Selection for High School Week 3
This week we are reading the story “The Most Dangerous Game” by American author and journalist Richard Connell. It is set in the 1920s in the jungles of the Carribean and is a story of a man’s survival in a dangerous and unusual situation. The story is inspired by the big-game hunting safaris in Africa and South America that were particularly fashionable among wealthy Americans in the 1920s.
“The Most Dangerous Game” has been adapted in film numerous times, most recently in the series of the same name on Quibly. It has been called the "most popular short story ever written in English."
Below are links to the print version of the story and the audio version of the story. The print version is about thirty-two pages and the audio takes about forty-seven minutes.
Below the story links are some questions to help you think over the ideas in the story after you have read it and some information regarding modern-day links to this classic story.
Questions to think about for “The Most Dangerous Game”
Probably the principal theme of the story is the connection between all living beings, regardless of their intelligence or power. Rainsford begins by judging the animals he hunts as lacking attributes that we conventionally identify as "human." He does not even believe an animal can feel fear. The turning point in the story comes when Rainsford, as he is hunted by Zaroff, reflects that he now "knows how an animal at bay feels." We might imagine that the experience of being hunted has taught Rainsford his lesson about killing other animals. But the fact that Rainsford sleeps in Zaroff's bed suggests otherwise. What was your impression of the ending of this story? What do you think it says about Rainsford and humans more generally?
Rainsford justifies his hunting of animals because he believes that man is superior to animals because animals do not feel. To contradict, General Zaroff believes that men are superior because they are able to reason. The story simultaneously highlights through the experience of Rainsford, as he is hunted, the fears that animals must experience while being hunted. What wins out in the end: instinct or reason? Which does Rainsford use to survive?
What, ultimately, is “the most dangerous game”? Does "game" refer to the hunted ("game animals"), or to the competition between Rainsford and Zaroff? Or both? Does that change the meaning of the story?
Does the author of this story appear to condone hunting or condemn hunting animals—or both?
(Questions from Schmoop and Enotes)
The Most Dangerous Game in Modern Times
In 1976, Hayes Noel, Bob Gurnsey, and Charles Gaines discussed Gaines's recent trip to Africa and his experiences hunting African buffalo. Inspired in part by "The Most Dangerous Game", they created paintball in 1981—a game where they would stalk and hunt each other—to recreate the same adrenaline rush from hunting animals.
Robert Hansen, a serial killer who was active in the early 1980s, would kidnap women and release them in Alaska's Knik River Valley. He would then hunt them, armed with a knife and a Ruger Mini-14 rifle. Hansen was arrested and imprisoned for life where he died of an undisclosed illness.
There is a reference to "The Most Dangerous Game" in letters the Zodiac Killer wrote to San Francisco Bay Area newspapers in his three-part cipher: "Man is the most dangerous animal of all to kill."
Elementary Selection for Week 3
This week we will be reading a story about Horton the Elephant who shows persistence and dependability in a difficult situation.
Library Selection for Preschool/Intensive Support
This week we are reading the six selections below. Click on the hyperlinks under each book cover to hear the stories being read to you.