The Most Dangerous Game: Exposition & Rising Action Video

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  • 0:02 In the Beginning
  • 1:39 The Rising Action
  • 2:51 An Obsession with Hunting
  • 4:10 A Shocking Truth
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Garrett

Sarah has taught secondary English and holds a master's degree in Curriculum & Instruction

The Most Dangerous Game is a timeless short story written by Richard Connell. In this lesson we will review the terms exposition and rising action and what plot points from this story fall into these categories.

In the Beginning

Can you imagine being deserted on an island and finding someone there who knew you? Would you be gracious or afraid? This becomes a reality for Sanger Rainsford in 'The Most Dangerous Game.'

In this lesson, we'll discuss the exposition and rising action of Richard Connell's famous story 'The Most Dangerous Game.' The exposition of a story is where the setting and many of the major characters are introduced.

In the beginning of the story, it's around 1920. Sanger Rainsford, the protagonist, and his hunting crew are on a yacht travelling through the Caribbean towards the Amazon to go big game hunting. Rainsford is a skilled hunter and is very wealthy.

In the first few lines, the reader is met with an immediate sense of eeriness. Rainsford and his shipmate Whitney are discussing the sheer darkness of the evening. Rainsford remarks that it's like 'moist black velvet.' They are passing a rumored island called 'Ship Trap Island' and the crew is noticeably apprehensive.

Whitney and Rainsford continue talking and the conversation changes to hunting. Rainsford says that hunting is the best sport in the world. Whitney notes that it is for the hunter, and he reasons that animals understand the fear of pain and death. Rainsford, however, disagrees.

Whitney retires for the evening and Rainsford remains on the deck. Suddenly, he hears a pistol shot in the distance. Trying to see, Rainsford climbs onto the rail, knocking his pipe out of his mouth. He lunges for it and falls overboard into the sea. Since he falls overboard, he is now in a conflict with nature, thus beginning the rising action of the story.

The Rising Action

The rising action of a story begins when a conflict is introduced. A story's rising action includes the major plot points leading up to the climax. A conflict is defined as any kind of struggle between two forces. These forces can be anything from two human beings to a human being against an inhuman force. In this case, since Rainsford has fallen into the water, there is now a person versus nature conflict which starts the rising action.

Due to Rainsford's physical fitness and training, he's able to keep cool and swim to the shore of 'Ship Trap Island.' After making it, he falls into a deep sleep.

The next day, he awakens in the late afternoon. He realizes that if there are gunshots, there are men, and if there are men, there is food. Rainsford makes his way along the shoreline and sees a spot where a large animal must have been killed. He sees the shell casing and notices that the caliber is very small to take on such a large animal.

Eventually, Rainsford notices an enormous, 'palatial chateau.' He knocks on the door and is greeted by a giant man that has a revolver pointed at him. Rainsford attempts to explain himself and soon a military-looking Russian man calls the giant, whose name is Ivan, off of Rainsford.

An Obsession with Hunting

Rainsford is soon welcomed by name by the military man. Rainsford is puzzled but shakes his hand anyways. The man says that he read a book Rainsford wrote about hunting and introduces himself as General Zaroff.

Zaroff insists that Rainsford take a room and change his clothes. Rainsford obliges. Soon, Rainsford comes to dinner, and he and General Zaroff talk. During this conversation, Rainsford learns more about his life. Zaroff was a General in the Russian military before the Russian Revolution. He fled to the island to escape persecution and brought Ivan with him.

Rainsford compliments Zaroff's collection of animal heads that are displayed about the dining room. Zaroff then recounts his hunting adventures beginning from the time he was a small boy. He says that he has read every book on hunting and has hunted almost every big game animal. Rainsford remarks that he thinks the Cape Buffalo is the most dangerous big game.

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