The stories under analysis, “The Child by Tiger” and “The Most Dangerous Game”, were written during the same historical epoch but reflect different world views, philosophical and epistemological concepts of the authors. Thesis The stories have many elements and themes in common but set in different settings which have a great influence on plot and characters development.
Both protagonists, Dick Prosser (The Child by Tiger) and General Zaroff (The Most Dangerous Game), have dual nature and split personality which determines their relations with other people and the world around them. At the beginning of the stories, both characters appear to be respectable gentlemen with good reputation and high morals while at the end of the stories they reveal evil nature they try to hide.
The main difference between the protagonists is moral side of their actions. Both protagonists are described as dangerous persons and this danger stirs up their low morals and personal qualities. In spite of the fact that Dick Prosser is a devoted Christian, he is a murder. The protagonists share different values and traditions which have a great impact on their actions. Prosser is a religious man while General Zaroff is an atheist. For General Zaroff, killing people is a kind of a game (hunting) while for Prosser it is a sacred mission, “the path of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Wolfe, 1989, p. 333).
The other difference between the works is evolution and development of the characters. In contrast to innocent Dick Prosser, there are some hints to readers that General Zaroff is a violence and dangerous man. From the very beginning, he ironically replies: “Hunting tigers ceased to interest me some years ago. I exhausted their possibilities, you see. No thrill left in tigers, no real danger. I live for danger” (Connell, n.d.).
Both stories have similar themes which help the authors to create a story conflict and dramatic tension. The themes of “murder” and “killing” run through both works. These themes unveil that a natural man is opposed to cultivated man, a savage, a philistine and a marauder.
These problems have, in one form or another, been posed in most periods of intellectual history. An external power is entrusted with absolute authority, including the right to punish. Racial prejudices and inequalities are vividly portrayed in “The Child by Tiger” through the character of a black man, Dick Prosser. In contrast, Connell describes eternal human values and criticizes low morals of contemporary generation.
The main differences between the stories are settings and historical age. The story of “The Child by Tiger” is set in a small town in 1912 while the events described by Connell take place on an island in 1924: “Ship-Trap Island” (Connell, n.d.). In contrasts, Dick Prosser lives an ordinary life with a white family in the small southern town.
In sum, both stories have similar aspects which help the authors to create emotional tension in both works. The readers are shocked by cruelty and violence of the characters living in different times. Both authors stress that every person has evil nature which can control out good side and lead to terrible events the heroes cannot control.
- Connell, R. The Most Dangerous Game. Available at: http://www.classicreader.com/read.php/sid.6/bookid.1317/
- Wolfe, Th. The Child by Tiger. in The Complete Short stories of Thomas Wolfe. Collier Books. 1989.