A Burmese Tiger Pit is a classic trap used in hunting and war. Essentially, it is a deep pit, often more than ten feet deep, lined with sharp spikes at the bottom and covered with some weak material such as branches or a tarp covered in dirt. The object of the pit is to get an animal to fall in, injuring itself on the spikes and unable to climb out due to the high walls. A Burmese Tiger, being relatively smart and vicious, would be herded towards this pit by jungle beaters, and in a panic it wouldn't take time to look around and see or smell the human activity. Once inside the pit, the hunter can shoot down and finish it off, thus killing a prized animal without stalking or risking his own life.
Rainsford builds a quick Burmese Tiger Pit while fleeing from Zaroff and his dogs in "The Most Dangerous Game."
The pit grew deeper; when it was above his shoulders, he climbed out and from some hard saplings cut stakes and sharpened them to a fine point. These stakes he planted in the bottom of the pit with the points sticking up. With flying fingers he wove a rough carpet of weeds and branches and with it he covered the mouth of the pit.
(Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game," fiction.eserver.org)
However, General Zaroff has also hunted tigers, and so avoids the trap.
The Most Dangerous Game Theme of Perseverance
Rainsford is nothing if not a survivor. Throughout all of “The Most Dangerous Game,” he just does not give up. When he falls off the yacht, he manages to get himself safely to the rocky shore. His success in getting to shore sets us up to expect him to face (and prevail over) even greater challenges: “doggedly he swam in that direction, swimming with slow, deliberate strokes, conserving his strength. For a seemingly endless time he fought the sea” (1.35). When faced with a master game-hunter, he uses all of the tricks up his sleeve—from the Malay mancatcher to the Burmese tiger pit. We see how committed he is to survival not only through the actions he takes—many of which don’t seem like “safe choices”—but also though the clues that Connell gives us, like describing Rainsford’s “determined effort.” This guy ain’t giving up.
Questions About Perseverance
- Why does Zaroff persevere less as he hunts down Rainsford?
- What does Rainsford’s struggle ultimately achieve for him?
- Are animals capable of perseverance in “The Most Dangerous Game”?
- Why does the hunt become too easy for Zaroff?
- Why doesn't Zaroff give it his all when he is hunting Rainsford?
- What are some of Rainsford’s most impressive and cunning moves?
- Why doesn’t Zaroff fight back in the end?
Chew on This
Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.
A lot of elements go into making a good hunter: being clever and wily, the ability to improvise and take risks; but perseverance is Rainsford’s greatest strength.
Zaroff enjoys the hunt more than he enjoys the kill. If it were the other way around, he would have taken Rainsford out with that automatic pistol on the first day of the hunt.