Published in 1924, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell is a suspenseful short story. The main character, Rainsford, is sailing by a mysterious island on his way to the Amazon to hunt jaguars. He and his mate discuss the ominous land in the distance.
Rainsford admits he has a bad feeling about the place and ends up shipwrecked on the island soon after. He quickly meets the owner of the dark island and learns the reason why this place is feared.
This is a short, exciting read and even better – it’s in the public domain (it’s free).
The Most Dangerous Game provides three lessons about life:
1 – Put yourself into the shoes of the prey.
Rainsford shows a hint of an ethical dilemma early on in the story as he speaks to his partner on the ship. He brings up the question of how the jaguars they’re hunting will feel about being hunted. This foreshadows the fact that Rainsfored will very soon become the hunted instead of the hunter.
Not only with the sport of hunting, but with all things in life – put yourself into the other person’s shoes. How are your decisions and actions going to affect others around you? How are you actions going to make others feel? Are you doing what’s right by other people or are you having fun at the expense of the “prey?”
Consider others’ feelings and show empathy. Don’t pursue things that aren’t necessary if it’s going to severely hurt someone else.
2 – Don’t let your guard down.
The owner of the island and his exhilarating “game” came to an abrupt end because he let his guard down. He thought he was safe in his home and he allowed himself to grow overconfident in his ability to be the hunter. He left himself open for Rainsford to sneak in and end the suffering of shipwrecked sailors.
Even if you’re the best in the game or at the top of the food chain, stay on your toes. Don’t let outsiders come in and destroy your hard earned empire by getting cocky. Don’t assume there’s no one out there capable of one-upping your skills.
Stay fresh and humble until it’s time to retire.
3 – People need to be challenged.
Rainsford discovers that the owner of the island hunts down men because of man’s ability to reason, unlike his big game prey. The owner hunted every type of animal and grew bored with the lack of competition from the creatures. Consequently, he turned to hunting men.
Obviously the man had a bit of sociopath in his genes. The owner could have found other ways to satisfy his thrill (like maybe trying to hunt with only a knife instead of using a gun?).
But the fact remains that if we as humans are not challenged, we will grow uninterested and we will lose motivation.
Keep yourself challenged and always explore new opportunities to test yourself. This will keep you from growing idle and seeing life as mundane.
(Disclaimer – don’t hunt people, or any animals either. I’m not condoning hunting of any kind here except the hunt for self-improvement.)
To recap, The Most Dangerous Game‘s Life Lessons are to put yourself into the shoes of the prey, never let your guard down, and keep yourself challenged.
On a safety note, watch out for spiked pits and flying knives if you’re trekking through the jungle. These might severely injure you and your hounds.
Thanks for reading. Try not to get shipwrecked on an island owned by a psycho.
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