American Interest in Central America and the Caribbean
By 1924, the year “The Most Dangerous Game” was published, the United States was firmly committed to Latin American politics. Military concerns and economic interests, including banking, investments, and the exploitation of natural resources, tied American interests to Latin America and resulted in expansionist legislation. The Platt Amendment of 1901 provided for American intervention in Cuba in case an unstable new government failed to protect life, liberty and property; this was written into Cuba’s constitution. In 1905 President Roosevelt urged European nations to keep out of Latin America. He believed the United States was the only nation that should interfere in their politics. This paternal, interventionist attitude was typical of much of the United States’s Latin American foreign policy. Such policy, highlighted by the construction of the Panama Canal, created . . . Read More
“The Most Dangerous Game,” a gripping tale that pits man versus man in a South American jungle, includes elements that recall several literary genres, including Gothic, action-adventure, and horror.
In “The Most Dangerous Game,” Richard Connell provides an ominous setting typical of the Gothic genre. Horrible sounds and dismal sights fill the background of this story, and the details become more frightening and typical of both the horror and action-adventure genres as the story progresses. When he falls off the yacht, Rainsford immediately finds himself in the “blood warm waters of the Caribbean sea”—an indication of worse things to come. He fights through the surf, listening to gunshots and the screams of dying animals he later finds out were humans. Rainsford passes over rocks that he could have “shattered against” only to leave “the enemy, the sea” for . . . Read More
Rainsford, a noted hunter, falls off a ship and swims to a foreboding island. He finds there the evil General Zaroff who, with the help of his brutish assistant, hunts humans for sport. After three days of fighting for his life in the jungle while Zaroff hunts him, Rainsford surprises Zaroff and kills him. At the story’s end, it is not clear if Rainsford will leave the island or take Zaroff s place.
Violence and Cruelty
Essentially an action-packed thriller, Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” builds around explosions of violence. The violence of his malicious host, General Zaroff, initially shocks Rainsford, but as he fights to stay alive he becomes caught up in Zaroff’s game. Zaroff attempts to justify his violence with “civilized”‘ arguments. He poses as a modern rationalist and argues against “romantic ideas about the value of human life” and then scolds . . . Read More
Ivan is the deaf and dumb assistant to General Zaroff. He is extremely large and seems to enjoy torturing and murdering helpless captives. Indeed, Zaroff uses the threat of turning his huntees over to Ivan if they will not comply with his desire to hunt them; the huntees invariably choose to be hunted rather than face the brutal Ivan. Ivan, like Zaroff, is a Cossack—a Russian who served as a soldier to the Russian Czar in the early 1900s. Ivan dies as the result of one of Rainsford’s traps.
After hearing gunshots in the darkness, Sanger Rainsford falls off a yacht into the Caribbean Sea. “It was not the first time he had been in a tight place,” however. Rainsford is an American hunter of world renown, and is immediately recognized by General Zaroff as the author of a book on hunting snow leopards in Tibet. While he shares both an interest in hunting and . . . Read More
The celebrated hunter Sanger Rainsford, while aboard a yacht cruising in the Caribbean, falls into the sea. While swimming desperately for shore, he hears the anguished cries of an animal being hunted; it is an animal he does not recognize. Rainsford makes it to land and after sleeping on the beach, he begins to look for people on the island. He finds evidence of the hunt he overheard and wonders, upon finding empty cartridges, why anyone would use a small gun to hunt what was, according to the evidence, obviously a large animal. Rainsford then follows the hunter’s footprints to the solitary house on the island.
The mansion looms above him like something out of a Gothic novel and inside is a similarly Gothic character as well: Ivan, a gigantic, mute man. Ivan is about to shoot Rainsford when the entry of another man stops him. The second man, General Zaroff, is far more civilized looking than Ivan and has exquisite manners. He apologizes for Ivan and gives . . . Read More
Although Shirley Jackson wrote many books, children’s stories and humorous pieces, she is most remembered for her story “The Lottery.” In “The Lottery” Jackson portrays the average citizens of an average village taking part in an annual sacrifice of one of their own residents. When the story was published in the New Yorker magazine in 1948, reader response was tremendous. People were horrified by the story and wrote to express their disgust that a tale containing a pointless, arbitrary, violent sacrifice had been allowed to be published. Some also called to see where the town was so that they could go and watch the lottery. It is this last behavior, the need to feel a part of the gruesomeness that exists in American society, that Jackson so skillfully depicts in “The Lottery.”
Take for instance the recent fascination with television talk shows. On these programs we learn more than we want to about dysfunctional families, . . . Read More
“The Lottery” was published in 1948, shortly after the end of World War II, but Jackson set the story in an indeterminate time and place. Many critics, however, have maintained that Jackson modeled the village after North Bennington, Vermont, where she and her husband lived after their marriage in 1940. After the story was published, some of Jackson’s friends and acquaintances also suggested that many of its characters were modeled after people who lived in North Bennington. Jackson herself, who throughout her life said little about the meaning behind or the circumstances surrounding the story, noted: “I hoped by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village, to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general humanity in their own lives.”
Some critics have suggested that “The Lottery” is representative of the social, political, and cultural . . . Read More
Jackson establishes the setting of “The Lottery” at the beginning of the story. It takes place on the morning of June 27th, a sunny and pleasant summer day, in the village square of a town of about three hundred people. The setting is described as tranquil and peaceful, with children playing and adults talking about everyday concerns. This seemingly normal and happy setting contrasts greatly with the brutal reality of the lottery. Few clues are given to a specific time and place in the story, a technique used to emphasize the fact that such brutality can take place in any time or in any place.
Jackson’s narrative technique, the way she recounts the events in the story, is often described as detached and objective. Told from a third-person point of view, the narrator is not a participant in the story. The objective tone of the narrative, meaning the story is . . . Read More
“The Lottery” focuses on Tessie Hutchinson, a woman who is stoned to death by members of her village.
Violence and Cruelty
Violence is a major theme in “The Lottery.” While the stoning is a cruel and brutal act, Jackson enhances its emotional impact by setting the story in a seemingly civilized and peaceful society. This suggests that horrifying acts of violence can take place anywhere at anytime, and they can be committed by the most ordinary people. Jackson also addresses the psychology behind mass cruelty by presenting a community whose citizens refuse to stand as individuals and oppose the lottery and who instead unquestioningly take part in the killing of an innocent and accepted member of their village with no apparent grief or remorse.
Custom and Tradition
Another theme of “The Lottery” concerns the blind following of tradition and the . . . Read More
Mr. Adams is one of the men of the village. While he seems to be one of the few who questions the lottery when he mentions that another village is thinking about giving up the ritual, he stands at the front of the crowd when the stoning of Tessie begins.
Along with Tessie Hutchinson, Mrs. Adams seems to be one of the few women of the village who questions the lottery. She tells Old Man Warner that “some places have already quit lotteries.”
An acquaintance of Tessie Hutchinson’s, Mrs. Delacroix is the first person Tessie speaks to when she arrives late at the lottery. When Tessie protests the method of drawing, it is Mrs. Delacroix who says, “Be a good sport, Tessie.” Mrs. Delacroix, however, is among the most active participants when the stoning begins, grabbing a stone so heavy she cannot lift it. Some . . . Read More