Though written by different authors, Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” and Thomas Wolfe’s “The Child by Tiger” have many aspects in common. They also have some distinct differences. Despite the fact that Richard Connell and Thomas Wolfe lived at about the same times, their lives were very different. Connell was born in New York, graduated from Harvard, and fought in World War I in France for the United States Army. On the other hand, Wolfe was born in Ashville, North Carolina, where he spent his whole life. The cultural differences in the lives of the authors account for many of the differences in their short stories.
“The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Child by Tiger” both have, as protagonists, men who contradict themselves. In “The Most Dangerous Game,” General Zaroff tries to lead a civilized life with all the modern conveniences of civilization,but he is on an island in the middle of nowhere. His meals are served with style, and he is always dressed properly for these meals. He said to Sanger Rainsford, “We do our best to preserve the amenities of civilization here, please forgive any lapses. We are well off the beaten track, you know.” (13) The fact that Zaroff is so concerned about civility contrasts with the fact that he is, indeed, hunting human beings.
In “The Child by Tiger,” Dick Prosser’s personality shows a jarring dichotomy. Though he is a Christian, constantly reading his Bible and praying, he becomes a murder. This is against his faith. The sixth commandment says, “You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13 NIV) “The Most Dangerous Game” also involved murder. General Zaroff deliberately hunts down one man, Rainsford, while in “The Child by Tiger,” Dick Prosser kills randomly. He shoots everyone who happens to be in his way.
Both stories have a sense of suspense and mystery. In “The Child by Tiger,” one wonders why Dick Prosser goes on a murderous rampage after living many docile years in the community. Did he go crazy, or did anger lead him on his homicidal walk through town? In “The Most Dangerous Game,” one wonders where General Zaroff gets the cream for his whipped cream and all the other amenities of a civilized life. Why did he want to or need to have that civilized part of his life anyway? Was he so disconnected with people that he no longer valued human life, or was he really insane? “The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Child by Tiger” occur in different settings and different time periods.
“The Child by Tiger” occurred in a small southern town in 1912, while “The Most Dangerous Game” took place on a remote island in 1924. The settings had a great deal to do with the stories. In “The Child by Tiger,” the black-white relationship was still tense in the South, and the blacks still did not have many of the freedoms that the whites did. This provided the controversy for the story. The year had less to do in “The Most Dangerous Game” since it was on a secluded island, but the setting contributed to the story. If they weren’t in a remote place, Zaroff would never be able to live how he was living, and hunt what he was hunting.
There are many similarities and differences between “The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Child by Tiger.” Though the plots differ, they both comprise contradictory characters, murder, mystery, and suspense.