I hunt men, therefore I am: An Invitation to Explore Humans’ Tendency to Kill Humans for Sport in “The Most Dangerous Game”

Parlindungan Pardede


Universitas kristen Indonesia

The history of civilization reveals that hunting animals is one of the oldest human activities. During the pre-civilization era, it was people’s main activities for survival and for selecting the bravest warrior. During the middle age up to the industrial age, some societies still hunted animals to feed themselves, while some others hunted wild animals to protect their homes, farms, and livestock. With the advancement of civilization, hunting turned out to be a sport. In some cultures, routing and killing animals for sport is a favorite pastime.

For most people, hunting, in the context of chasing and killing animals as described above is generally accepted. But, what about hunting in which humans are the prey? This idea must be shocking for most individuals, but history shows it is not fictitious. In “Manhunts: A Philosophical History” (2012), Chamayou examines the hunting of humans as an initiation rite in ancient Greece, for heretics in the Middle Ages, and law enforcement, ethnical cleansing, religious persecution in Modern age. Although the main purposes of hunting humans were to capture slaves and rule ones’ territories, some people practiced it to take pleasure in the act and treat it like a sport.

Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” (1924) is the first modern short story about human hunts human. It was adapted into a film with the same title in 1932 and inspired many other movies about the hunting of humans, such as The Naked Prey (1965), Race with the Devil (1975), Turkey Shoot (1982) and Beyond the Reach (2014) and many others. This short story focuses on the two major characters’ contest, in which one is the hunter and the other one is the hunted. Through the contestation, the motives and attitudes towards the hunting of humans are explored.

The story starts with the voyage of Rainsford, a big game hunter, and his friend Whitney to the Amazon. They shipwreck and land on an island called “Ship Trap Island” where Rainsford meets the rich General Zaroff, the owner of the island who lives there din a big house only with Ivan, a big, strong but deaf and dumb man and dozens of huge fierce dogs. Zaroff immediately recognizes Rainsford as a famous hunter and welcomes him. He claims he loves hunting, too, but is not interested to hunt wild animals anymore. He has found a weird brand of hunting, i.e. hunting real men. Different from animals that only have legs and instinct, men can reason, so that they are more challenging to hunt. He lures scumbags to his island and provides them a head start, then hunts them. Shocked by Zaroff’s explanation, Rainsford contends that hunting animals is okay, but hunting men is aa murder. So he refuses to hunt man with Zaroff.

His refusal makes Rainsford the hunted. He is promised that Zaroff will set him free if he can survive in three days. If he refuses to be hunted, he will be executed by Ivan, an ex-official knouter in the Czar era in Rusia. As the hunted, he is provided a knife, while Zaroff uses a gun to hunt. Rainsford is also given a two-hour head start to run into the jungle. Then Zaroff starts to hunt him. Rainsford …

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