Traps in The Most Dangerous Game

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  • 0:04 The Channel
  • 1:07 The Malay Mancatcher
  • 2:08 The Burmese Tiger Pit
  • 2:46 The Ugandan Spring Trap
  • 3:39 Rainsford's Final Trap
  • 4:08 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

In this lesson, we will discuss the traps set by Sanger Rainsford and General Zaroff and their significance to the plot in the short story 'The Most Dangerous Game,' a classic written by author Richard Connell.

The Channel

Can you imagine being hunted by someone in a tropical jungle for three days? This is a reality for Sanger Rainsford in this classic story The Most Dangerous Game. A hunter named Sanger Rainsford becomes trapped on an island and gets hunted himself by a man named General Zaroff. Let's review the traps that arise throughout the story and discuss their significance to the plot.

The first trap discussed in the story is one made by Zaroff. Out in the water close to the island he owns, Zaroff has placed lights indicating a channel. A channel is a passageway for ships that connects two larger bodies of water. Often it's marked with two lights showing where the boat can pass through.

A channel marked by two lights

At Zaroff's channel, however, there are rocks lurking beneath the water that tear apart the ship. This forces the ship crew to swim to his island, and he collects them to be hunted.

This is significant to the plot because it shows Zaroff's evil nature. While Rainsford listens in shock, Zaroff discusses his belief that there is nothing wrong with what he is doing and admits that he only hunts ''the scum of the Earth.'' It also shows how vastly different Rainsford and Zaroff's beliefs are on the value of human life.

The Malay Mancatcher

Rainsford refuses to hunt humans with Zaroff; therefore, Zaroff releases him into the woods to be hunted. Rainsford is only provided a long-bladed hunting knife, food, and hunting clothes. Zaroff, on the other hand, has knowledge of the land, hunting dogs, a gun, and a servant named Ivan to help.

Rainsford's devises a trap he learned while hunting in Malacca in Southeast Asia. While making his way through the dense jungle, Rainsford notices a large dead tree laying over a smaller living one. After some work, Rainsford makes a trigger. This trap is called the Malay Mancatcher, because when someone steps on the trigger, it causes the smaller tree to give way, allowing the larger tree to crush what is under it. Rainsford hopes that Zaroff will step on the trigger and be killed by the weight of the large tree. Unfortunately, when Zaroff comes, he is able to get out of the way in time and the trap only injures his shoulder.

This trap proves significant because it shows Zaroff that he has met his match in Rainsford. Up until this point, he has been far superior to his prey. Although he was not killed, the wound is enough to cause Zaroff to bring a dog with him the next time.

The Burmese Tiger Pit

Next Rainsford makes a trap that takes several steps to make. First, Rainsford digs a shoulder-deep hole. After this step, he sharpens wooden stakes and places them at the bottom of the hole. Finally, a cover or jungle foliage is placed over top to hide the trap. This is called the Burmese Tiger Pit. Rainsford makes this in hopes Zaroff will fall into the hole and be impaled by the stakes.


Unfortunately, when Zaroff returns, he brings a dog, and the dog falls prey to the trap. Without the dog, Zaroff most certainly would have perished. This being the case, it proves that Rainsford's hunting skills are superior to Zaroff's. In a sense, it also gives us hope that Rainsford will beat Zaroff in the end.

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