The Most Dangerous GameThe Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

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The Most Dangerous Game


1. My feelings regarding Ship Trap Island aren’t really good feelings at all. There is a definite sense of evil from the first mention of it in the story. Along with that, it seems dangerous and gloomy.


. This lifestyle doesn’t really seem plausible due to the isolated location, small staff, and the logistics of food supplies, electricity, communication, and property upkeep. Perhaps Zaroff “pirates” from the grounded yachts, but that still wouldn’t come close to the image portrayed by the author.


. Zaroff is an interesting mixture of “savagery and cultured refinement.” The house, his clothes, and his food all demonstrate his love for the finer things in life. However, his hobby of hunting humans is purely evil. There are many movie characters that follow this “bad-guy” formula, but to me the most obvious parallel are historical figures. The leaders of the Axis nations during WW II often lived the high life while others were suffering horribly. Saddam Hussein also fits the bill of a despot living in luxury at the expense of his countrymen.


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4. Rainsford is a bit of a Hollywood-Hero stereotype, but still quite interesting is his own right. He is the underdog, determined to succeed, and ultimately wins through wit and sacrifice. The closest parallel I could think of would be Arnold Schwarzenegger (spelling?) in “The Predator.” In this movie, Arnold is the hunted prey of an alien being. As events unfold, he becomes the hunter and vanquishes the extra-terrestrial foe.


5. The suspense of the hunt really captures the reader. I felt like I was right there with Rainsford as he eluded and outsmarted Zaroff. As for any other purpose, perhaps the author was telling us that grit, determination, and a lucky break can lead to eventual success.


6. The elements for commercial fiction are all “alive and well” in this particular short story. A hero we like finds himself in a clearly defined plot that is chock-full of suspense, danger, and the odds are against his success. Our hero conquers the enemy and is triumphant in the end.


The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber


1. The story opens with a hugely defining moment already past. Francis, who appeared to be the brave hero has now shown his cowardice. Wilson and Margot despise Francis’ lack of courage. The scene arrangement seems to be like the flashbacks we experience as we look back at our own lives. Hindsight is always 0/0 and our mistakes are easily seen.


. Wilson is the more sympathetic character in my opinion. Francis must endure his wife’s dalliance, his cowardice, and the disapproval of others. However, he was able to face and conquer his fears. Wilson, on the other hand, would probably spend the rest of his life playing the same old game. He would not have the opportunity to face/over come his fears, and emerge as a better man.


. One physical feature noted several times is the “red-faced” idea. When Wilson is described as red-faced, it’s due to his sunburned, ruddy complexion. Francis red face is due to his embarrassment. Margot’s face is red when she’s angry. All three of these examples bring very distinct images to the reader’s mind.


4. One point of dialogue between Francis and Wilson lets the reader in on some underlying tensions between the two men. Francis apologizes for “that lion business” and then asks “it doesn’t go any further, does it? I mean no one will hear about it, will they?” We can easily feel his embarrassment and understand his reluctance to have the episode shared. Francis seems to be disappointed in himself. After all, he has money and an education, but in the moment of crisis reacted as he never would have imagined. Wilson then replied “No, I’m a professional hunter. We never talk about our clients.” Wilson has great disgust for Francis at that point and brands him as a “bloody coward.” There is almost the feeling that Wilson can’t believe with all the money and opportunity that Francis has had, he’s still not worth much.


5. This blend of a hunting expedition and a troubled marriage is truly an interesting combination. Francis seems to be the prey in both instances. When the wounded lion charges him, the lion only wants to kill. Eventually in the story’s finale, Margot the lioness kills Francis. Francis wasn’t able to wound his wife, but she certainly wounded him mentally and emotionally. You could say that she killed him bit by bit and the bullet was just the finishing touch. Margot was truly the skilled hunter. She hunted Francis for his money and Wilson for the fun.


6. The jungle was a great setting for a couple of different reasons. The jungle is a confusing place without clear pathways. There can be danger around every corner and what may appear safe could be just the opposite. As people cope with strong emotions (love, hate, revulsion, distrust, betrayal) it can be every bit as confusing as a jungle. The physical setting only gave a visual to what was going on inside the characters’ minds and hearts.


7. No, Francis is ultimately not a coward. The moment with the wounded lion was a display of cowardly behavior, but not indicative of the man. We all have moments of cowardly behavior, but that does not mean that is who we are deep down inside. Some might say that remaining in a loveless marriage and suffering humiliation from his wife demonstrates his cowardice. I feel that Francis tried to live his life nobly by remaining with his wife. It is obvious that Margot does not love him, but perhaps Francis held onto a bit of love for her and did not want her to suffer the same degradation she was inflicting. I feel that Francis was a four-letter man G-O-O-D.





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