The Most Dangerous Game
Island and Jungle
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
As a symbol, the jungle is not terribly complex. But who says a symbol has to hit you over the head? (That’s not the author’s “game”).
It just wouldn’t be the same if the story took place in a suburban gated community with a bunch of cul-de-sacs. Having it take place on an island suggests isolation—a place where one man can rule without question and create his own laws. And that’s what General Zaroff wants. It’s also a place that's almost impossible to escape.
In seeking real estate, General Zaroff explains: “So I bought this island, built this house, and here I do my hunting. The island is perfect for my purposes—there are jungles with a maze of traits in them, hills, swamps […]" (1.103)
The mysterious and complex setting directly serves Zaroff’s purposes. It’s a setting for booby traps and dead-ends, hiding and pouncing. But because Zaroff is so fixated on the island itself, and how to navigate it (he does have the advantage, after all), he doesn’t take into consideration that his prey might end up in the sea…
For more discussion of the enticing features of “Ship Trap” island, see our “Setting” section. If you want to read about how being set loose in the jungle is harder than fighting Germans in the trenches of World War I, see Rainsford’s “Character Analysis.”