What Is the Falling Action of “The Most Dangerous Game?”

The falling action of “The Most Dangerous Game” involves the consummation of an ongoing game where Sanger Rainsford is being hunted like big game in an island jungle by General Zaroff, an aristocratic Cossack. After surviving more than a day as quarry, Rainsford is backed up against a cliff and jumps into the sea. He swims around the island and sneaks inside Zaroff’s chateau for their final confrontation.

Ironically, Rainsford is a hunter himself and falls overboard while on his way with a friend to Rio de Janeiro to hunt jaguar. He swims to the unsubtly named Ship-Trap Island, which is home to General Zaroff, his servant Ivan and his hunting dogs. The general compels Rainsford into a game where he will be hunted for up to three days in the wild. Rainsford succeeds in eluding Zaroff and even kills Ivan and one of Zaroff’s hounds, but ultimately leaps from a cliff when he is cornered by the rest of the pack. He swims his way back to Zaroff’s home, sneaks in and waits to be discovered behind the bed curtains. Once found, Zaroff congratulates Rainsford for winning the game, but Rainsford now wants to fight. The terms are that the winner sleeps in the bed and the loser is fed to the dogs. This is the final uncertain moment of the story’s falling action. The author does not describe the fight but ends the story with Rainsford concluding he has never slept in a more comfortable bed.

“The Most Dangerous Game” is a short story by Richard Connell, published in January of 1924. It was also published under the title, “The Hounds of Zaroff.”