Literature Exam 1 Study Guide
Chapter 1: Reading the Story
Commercial Fiction: Fiction written to meet the taste of a wide popular audience and relying usually on tested formulas for satisfying such taste. (pgs. 61-66) Literary fiction: Fiction written with serious artistic intentions, providing an imagined experience yielding authentic insights into some significant aspect of life. (pgs. 61-66) Stories:
“The Most Dangerous Game” (pgs. 67-85)
Richard Connell- (1893-1949) From NY, graduated from Harvard, served a year in France with US Army during WW1 Characters:
Sanger Rainsford - A world-renowned big-game hunter and the story’s protagonist. Intelligent, experienced, and level-headed, Rainsford uses his wits and physical prowess to outwit General Zaroff. His understanding of civilization and the relationship between hunter and prey is radically transformed during his harrowing days on the island. Hiding from Zaroff, he recalls his days fighting in the trenches of World War I, where he witnessed unimaginable violence. At the same time, the three-day chase reverses his life of privilege and ease, forcing him to sacrifice comfort and luxury to survive. General Zaroff - A Russian Cossack and expatriate who lives on Ship-Trap Island and enjoys hunting men. General Zaroff’s high cheekbones, sharply defined nose, and pointed military mustache accentuate his mysteriousness and savagery. With a cultivated voice and deliberate, slightly accented way of speaking, his regal bearing and rarefied aristocratic air belie his dementia and sadism. He hunts human beings to experience the most satisfying thrill. Whitney - Rainsford’s friend and traveling companion. On the yacht, Whitney suggests to Rainsford that hunted animals feel fear. Highly suggestible, Whitney feels anxious as they sail near the mysterious Ship-Trap Island. He argues that evil emanates in waves like light and sound. Ivan - A Cossack and Zaroff’s mute assistant. A man of formidable physical stature, Ivan has a waist-length black beard and wears a black uniform. All of Zaroff’s captives prefer to flee from Zaroff as prey rather than suffer torture and certain death at Ivan’s hands. Teacher Comment: I like both these short stories, but if I had to choose my favorite, it would be "The Most Dangerous Game" because of all the action and suspense. From the moment Rainsford falls off the yacht to the final showdown in General Zaroff's bedroom, the story is filled with mysteries, surprises, and action. I especially like how Rainsford learns how it feels to be hunted because at the beginning of the story, he doesn't seem to have much sympathy for the animals he hunts. I believe he will have more sympathy after his experience on Ship-Trap Island.
“Hunters in the Snow” (pgs. 86-99)
Tobias Wolff- (b. 1945) From Washington State. He dropped out of high school and worked as an apprentice seaman, and then serves as a paratrooper in Vietnam. He has degrees from Oxford and Stanford, where he now teaches. Winner of the PEN/Faulkner award, also many awards for short fiction including the O. Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories volumes. Setting: Wolf frames the story in the woods while it is snowing. The environment reflects the characters themselves as they are developed in the plot as uncaring and cold. They are outside of society literally, and they are among animals as their actions show them to lack humanity. Also, it is significant that they are on a hunting expedition. While the author could have chosen multiple situations for a deadly accident, he puts them in a situation where their goal was to kill something. Characters:
Teacher comment: "Hunters in the Snow," however, is also very entertaining. A lot of students don't like this short story the first time they read it, but it actually contains some very funny dark humor. For example, Tub and Frank are...
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