At first glance, ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ by Richard Connell, ‘Paul’s Case’ by Willa Cather, and ‘The Beast in the Jungle’ by Henry James have very little in common.
In ‘The Most Dangerous Game’ Sanger Rainsford, an accomplished big game hunter, is marooned on a remote island that is inhabited by another big game hunter, General Zaroff, who has found a very twisted way to add thrills to his hunting parties. In ‘Paul’s Case’ a young man from Pittsburgh struggles with feelings of alienation from his middle-class surroundings. In ‘The Beast in the Jungle’ John Marcher lives his entire life waiting for a defining moment to happen.
But in each of these stories, the main character makes extreme choices under isolating circumstances. For Rainsford case, the isolation is external, imposed upon him by the insane General Zaroff. For Paul, the isolation comes from ‘the shadowed corner, the dark place into which he dared not look, but from which something seemed always to be watching him.’ For John Marcher, the isolation is ‘the real truth’ about himself, his undefined ‘beast’ that is liable to spring at any moment. Their choices make these must read stories.