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Reaching Fiction

Reaching Fiction
After reading “The Child by Tiger,” written by Thomas Wolfe, and
Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game,” I have noticed that these
stories are similar, yet they are different. Although both stories have manhunts
and mad men, according to Thomas R. Arp, the editor of Perrine’s Literature:
Structure, Sound, and Sense, “The Child by Tiger” is
“interpretive” literature, and “The Most Dangerous Game” is
“escapist” literature which is shown by the contrasting settings and
events of the two short stories.

The setting in “The Child by Tiger” is probable to reality. During
the time that the story takes place; conditions in society were as they are
portrayed in the story. The racist words of the characters deliver the
conditions in society, and the way “Dick Prosser”(1) addresses the
young children is typical of the period in which the story takes place. It is
very probable that Prosser could have been discharged from the army and looking
for work. It is not too hard to believe a typical situation such as this. People
are discharged from the military daily and in search of employment, so it does
not take a stretch of the imagination to believe this setting.

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In contrast, the setting in “The Most Dangerous Game” is improbable
to reality (close to impossible). The “black night” and the feeling of
the presence of “evil” are not typical perceptions of experienced
hunters such as Whitney and Rainsford. Connell leads the reader to believe that
Rainsford’s fluky fall from the yacht leads Rainsford to General Zaroff’s
island. This setting makes the reader reach from daily life into a dark evil
night on the “Caribbean Sea” and a coincidental fall from a yacht to
raise explicit suspense in the reader. While they where on the deck of the
yacht, the conversation between Rainsford and Whitney is an instance of Connell
using deliberate irony solely for the purpose of amusing the reader.

“The Most Dangerous Game” undoubtedly has an “escapist”
setting, because the reader has to suppose the unusual.

Unlike “escapist” literature, the events in “The Child by
Tiger,” seem real to life. Wolfe uses the young boys “playing”
ball and typical events of everyday life to guide the reader through the story.

This creates a sense of reality in the story because life is full of typical
events. Everything in life is not spectacular or grand; life is made up of
little moments, which sometimes lead to climactic ones. Such is the case in
“The Child by Tiger” because it has an implicit level of suspense that
is created by the title combined with the ordinary events in the story. Since
the reader has to relate the events of the story with the title, suspense is
created. This is typical of “interpretive literature” because it
creates an element of implicit suspense
While it is not hard to believe the events in “The Child by Tiger,”
Connell in “The Most Dangerous Game” to “entertain” the
reader with explicitly uses bizarre, unlikely circumstances. The fact that
Rainsford is a distinguished “hunter” and that General Zaroff has
“read” about him requires the reader to escape from reality for the
sake of being entertained. It is very doubtful that Rainsford would fall off a
“yacht” and swim to an island in the middle of nowhere only to find
Zaroff who is an avid man hunter that has read Rainsford’s book. Further
supposition is needed to believe that Rainsford would really end up being hunted
by Zaroff. These events are remote from reality, but they are classic in
“escapist literature”.

In summary, there is a clear distinction between “interpretive” and
“escapist” literature shown in the two short stories. Contrasting
“The Most Dangerous Game,” “The Child by Tiger” is based on
reality. As Wolfe reaches out to the reader with the setting and events from the
story, Connell forces the reader to reach in.

Category: Miscellaneous


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