the most dangerous game
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The opening of the story introduces the reader to some important themes. First, Rainsford and Whitney’s conversations about the pleasure of hunting highlights the plight of the animal. Rainsford is a skeptic and thinks that animals do not experience many feelings or thoughts. He clearly establishes a hierarchy between man and beast.
Whitney modifies Rainsford’s statement by pointing out that the sport is only fun for the hunter. Rainsford pushes aside his commentary as foolishness for he feels that animals have no understanding of the hunt. Whitney points out that even if they can’t understand complex things, they still understand and experience fear. Rainsford, once again, casts aside his statement as nonsense. Rainsford tells Whitney that the heat has made him emotionally soft. The reality of the world, as Rainsford sees it, is that there are two groups—the hunted and the hunters.
A second theme that is introduced during this part of the story is the nature of evil. Again, Rainsford and Whitney converse briefly about this when discussing the notorious Ship-Trap Island. Both of these themes foreshadow the experiences that Rainsford later has on the island. Their discussion early in the text helps prepare the reader for the transformative incidents to follow.