Point of View in The Most Dangerous Game

Instructor: Catherine Rose

Catherine taught middle and high school English and has a master's degree in Education.

This lesson will explore the unique point of view in ''The Most Dangerous Game'' by Richard Connell. We will identify the specific choice of narrator and why that choice is the most appropriate for the story.

The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

In 'The Most Dangerous Game' by Richard Connell, Sanger Rainsford swims to an island after falling off his boat. The island, inhabited by General Zaroff, seems welcoming enough until Rainsford realizes that Zaroff intends on hunting him as his prey.

In a story such as this one, the perspective of the narrator, or point of view, is essential to understanding the story.

Point of view can be first-person if the narrator is showing the reader his personal thoughts, third-person limited if the narrator is outside of the story but shows us the thoughts of one character, or third-person omniscient if the narrator is outside of the story and shows us the thoughts of most of the characters.

Let's examine the choice of point of view in 'The Most Dangerous Game.'

A Narrator of One

Rainsford and Zaroff
Rainsford and Zaroff

Connell chooses to tell the story from a third-person limited point of view. For the majority of the story, the reader is inside the head of Rainsford, so the point of view is limited to him.

For example, examine this passage from the story:

Rainsford remembered the shots. They had come from the right, and doggedly he swam in that direction, swimming with slow, deliberate strokes, conserving his strength. For a seemingly endless time he fought the sea. He began to count his strokes; he could do possibly a hundred more and then--

The reader gets information on what Rainsford remembers, how he conserves his strength, and how he counts his strokes. While he is making choices in the story, the reader sees the trains of thought that lead him to make these choices; it's as if we are a part of Rainsford's mind.

Why Third-Person?

By having access to Rainsford's thoughts, we can understand his motivations, his choices, and his feelings about what is happening to him. By being a part of his thought process, we connect with him, which makes us care about what he chooses to do and what happens to him.

This third-person limited point of view also increases the suspense. We do not know what Zaroff is planning until Rainsford does. We see Rainsford question Zaroff's choices without knowing Zaroff's next move.

Consider this passage from the story:

Rainsford's second thought was even more terrible. It sent a shudder of cold horror through his whole being. Why had the general smiled? Why had he turned back?

Rainsford did not want to believe what his reason told him was true, but the truth was as evident as the sun that had by now pushed through the morning mists. The general was playing with him! The general was saving him for another day's sport! The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse. Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.

Here, Rainsford is speculating on why Zaroff did not kill him right then, when he seemed to know where he was. This questioning is only possible because we are limited to Rainsford's thoughts through the third person limited point of view.

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