Essay 4: Short Story Comparison: After reading “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” and “The Most Dangerous Game” you must attempt to answer one of the following questions using comparison and contrast techniques. Your answer should be in the form of a comparison/contrast essay.

ENC 1102, Professor A.K.

After reading “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” and “The Most Dangerous Game” you must attempt to answer one of the following questions using comparison and contrast techniques.  Your answer should be in the form of a comparison/contrast essay.

★   How does each story address the importance of human life?

★   What affect does the combination of magical/ unbelievable details and ordinary details have on the reader of each story?

★   How does the use of imagery help readers to understand the theme of each story?

★   Discuss how each story achieves a constant level of uncertainty for the readers, and why that uncertainty is necessary to the story.

★   How does the story comment upon humanity? Who is human in this story and who isn’t? What qualifies someone as human?

All essays must include:

○     A clear and concise thesis statement which clearly addresses one of the prompts above

○     Enough summary of each story so that your audience can understand your arguments

○     Organized body paragraphs which each present and discuss clear, individual points relating to the thesis

○     Effective organization–each story, and its relationship to the prompt, should be discussed thoroughly

○     Support from the text and your analysis/explication of the literature using direct quotations

■     Correct citations for support, in MLA format

●        See A Writer’s Reference or the website Purdue OWL for help here

○     Active, direct language and strong, clear verbs

○     Minimum length: Two pages, typed, double spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt., correct MLA heading

★     Essays must NOT include:

○     Pronouns: Pronouns limit your clarity and quality of writing.

○     “Be” verbs: They are weak and, in most cases, can be eliminated

○     First person: It weakens your arguments.

Sample Essay

Name of student

Name of professor



How each story addresses the importance of human life

In the short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” a hunter Rainsford is on board on his yacht when he drops into the sea. Rainsford swims to a nearby island where he sees evidence of someone hunting. Rainsford sports the only house where he seeks refuge. Rainsford encounters General Zaroff, a human being hunter. Zaroff informs Rainford that he would hunt Rainsford for three days after which if Rainsford survives, he will allow Rainsford to return to the mainland upon Rainsford’s promise to not reveal the encounters. Rainsford begins his survival efforts, but Zaroff fails to kill him. Rainsford sets traps and outfoxes Zaroff and eventually jumps back into the sea to elope. Rainsford then creeps into Zaroff’s house and kills Zaroff, emerging the new human hunter.

 “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is a story about Pelayo and Elisienda who lives near the ocean. Pelayo and Elisienda are parents to a newborn child who is sick. After a severe storm, the two notice an old man with wings in their courtyard and keeps him in the chicken coop. Curiosity grows within the town as to the identity of the man. A wise neighbor comes to informs that the old man is an angel. Father Gonza visits the old man but does not agree the old man is an angel. Father Gonza writes to the Bishop seeking direction on what to do. Meanwhile, Pelayo and Elisienda begin to charge a fee for seeing the “angel” and eventually become rich. A woman-spider arrives in town, and the crowd diverts attention to her resulting in fewer visitors. Pelayo and Elisienda raise their son and build new houses while the “angel” continues to live in the chicken coop. The “angel” gets sick and losses his feathers but recovers in December. Finally, the “angel” grows feathers and flies away.

The theme of human life is one the vital themes the two authors clearly present. We see that in either story, the author shows human life as of value, deserves respect and worth preserving. In Connell’s story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” Rainsford is extremely surprised when his host General Zaroff informs Rainsford that Zaroff is a hunter of persons. Although a conversation between Rainsford and Whitney reveals the former as a ruthless hunter without sympathy for animals, Rainsford’s opening encounters with Zaroff makes the audience see a certain degree of respect for human life in him. According to Zaroff, hunting and killing people is a sign of strength, power and gives more satisfaction. Zaroff’s view is that the victims get killed due to their weaknesses. Life belongs to the strong, Zaroff argues. Nevertheless, Rainsford is opposed to such opinion and rightly terms his host’s behavior “murder.”

“But they are men,” said Rainsford hotly

“Precisely,” said the general. “That is why I use them. It gives me pleasure. They can reason, after a fashion. So they are dangerous.”(Connell, 8).

With Rainsford’s argument, Zaroff concludes Rainford is naïve and the two end in misunderstanding. Later, Zaroff possibly realizes the inhumanity in his opinion when Rainsford finally empowers him.

Similarly, Elisenda, in Garcia-Mendez story, values of human life. When she and Pelayo find the old man with enormous wings in their courtyard, Elisenda and Pelayo places the old man in the family’s chicken coop and even try feeding him. The wise woman in the neighborhood advice Elisenda and Pelayo to cub the old man to death. Elisenda and Pelayo, however, decline the opinion. When the old man falls sick, the couple is concerned although it has not much to do about.

“They became alarmed, for they thought he was going to die. Not even the wise neighbor knew what to do with dead angels,” (Márquez, 2).

However, as the story continues, we interact with a society which disregards the importance of human life. Essentially, what we see is nearly a different version of Zaroff.  Even though a few people are optimistic towards the “angel,” a good portion of the visitors see no value in the old man’s life the same way Zaroff does. Probably this is the reason some have the capacity to dehumanize the old man with wings simply because of the one unfamiliar characteristic – wings. Those who arrive at the old man see the humanity in the old man yet fail to feel the need to respond humanely. It is the same lack of understanding, empathy, and disrespect for human life that motivates Zaroff into murder. The only difference is that Zaroff has graduated to a killer.

In general, throughout the two stories, the authors manage to convince us that all human life is important further demonstrating that neither weakness nor power counts.

Work cited

Connell, Richard. The most dangerous game. Filiquarian Publishing, LLC., 2006.

Márquez, Gabriel García. “A very old man with enormous wings.” Collected Stories (2004): 217-25.

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