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.

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