"The Most Dangerous Game" and Other Stories About Survival

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When people are in life or death situations they are likely to do anything they can to survive. Every year about 50 million people die. Some of them perished in accidents that they did not cause but unfortunately could not escape. Others were involuntarily put in life or death situations where they had to fight others to live. In these situations or accidents sometimes a few survive by doing horrible things that go against our rules in society. We often question if the people in these situations should be punished for what they did to survive. There are a great number of stories that exhibit what it takes to survive, including “The Seventh Man by Haruki Murakami, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, Tita and nic vs. Lusitania: How People Behave in a Disaster by Jeffrey Kluger, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

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People put in life or death situations should not be held accountable for their actions because they could not think clearly during the incident, did not choose to be in situations, or had no other apparent way to survive.

Some might say that because people in survival situations consciously decided to do something they should be held accountable for those actions. In the story “The Seventh Man” by Haruki Murakami, the main character fails to save his best friend K from a tsunami but manages to survive it. He even says to himself that “I could have saved K if I had tried… I abandoned him there and saved only myself” (Murakami par. 41). However, his memory of the event was exaggerated by his extreme fear at the time and later more muddled by survivor guilt. Whenever he thinks back to the incident he does not think clearly and is affected by the anguish of surviving without K and the fear of dying.

In “The Seventh Man” by Haruki Murakami, the main character is sure that a big wave is coming and tells himself to go and get his friend K off of the beach. But he instead finds himself running away by himself. “What made me do this, I’m sure, was fear, a fear so overpowering it took my voice away and set my legs to running on their own” (Murakami par. 30). The main character got so stressed and scared that his body instinctively moved to save him even though he was still telling himself to take the risk of saving K. When one is in such an extreme situation they can act without thinking, in the moment they lose control of their body. They may act in a way that they do not want to and act thoughtlessly. Therefore they should not be expected to justify their actions or be held accountable. In the story “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel, Pi is worried that a tiger on his boat would soon become hungry and then eat him, so he decides to fish but finds no bait. ‘I spent the rest of my day worrying myself sick … What was I supposed to do? Use one of my toes? Cut off one of my ears?’ (Martel par. 205). The possibility of the tiger eating him makes Pi extremely anxious and desperate. He becomes so stressed that he begins to feel ill and forms irrational ideas like using himself as bait. Though in the end, Pi did not do this, sometimes when a person’s life is in danger they become so desperate that they take foolish actions because they see no other options. Stress and fear of death often influence actions tremendously, sometimes to the point where so people in survival situations should not be faulted if they acted wrong.

Many survivors were involuntarily involved in the survival situation and fought for survival with everything they had. In the short story “Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connel, Rainsford is stranded on an island where the evil General Zaroff hunts people. When Rainsford tells him he wants to leave Zaroff replies that “Tonight,’ said the general, ‘we will hunt—you and I.’ … ‘The choice rests entirely with you. But may I not venture to suggest that you will find my idea of sport more diverting than Ivan’s?”(Connel par. 158). Rainsford is forced to be prey for the general, if he refuses he will be killed by Zaroff’s servant Ivan. Survivors often do not choose to be or are forced to be in a situation where they have to fight for their lives. They also may be forced to do something that goes against their morals if there is a possibility of dying from not doing it.

In conclusion. Often when survivors make a decision it is because they thought it was the best way to survive, not because it followed social norms. In the blog “The Value of A Sherpa Life” by Grayson Schaffer the author talks about how climbers are not held responsible for their sherpa lives and the risks Sherpas take. We could shut down the industry, but doing so would “anger the outfitters, clients, and, most of all, the Sherpas. That last group would lose jobs that pay between $2,000 and $6,000 per season, in a country where the median income is $540 per year'(Connel par. 4). Though the sherpas know guiding is dangerous they still willingly do it because they need the money to take care of the ones they love. If they don’t do it they will let down their family and lose all the opportunities that come with money.        

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