Rainsford Character Traits

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Rainsford is a very intelligent and curious man, but he can also behave very foolishly.  He has a strong sense of personal morality.  He is also physically strong, cunning, and a talented hunter

Rainsford is a skilled hunter, and writes books on the subject.  Zaroff seems impressed with his books

He executed a series of intricate loops; he doubled on his trail again and again, recalling all the lore of the fox hunt, and all the dodges of the fox. … He knew it would be insane to blunder on through the dark, even if he had the strength. 

Rainsford behaves foolishly when he falls into the water because he is curious about the sounds coming from the island.  He is also foolish because he assumes that Zaroff will not be hunting him, when it should be clear that Rainsford is exactly the prey he is looking for.

He also has a strong sense of moral responsibility.  He is horrified when he finds out that Zaroff is hunting and killing humans for sport.  He decides to win the game and kill Zaroff to rid the world of his evil.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In addition to what have been already mentioned, Sanford Rainsford, a hunter, is a predator who initially have no sympathy for any prey. In the exposition of the story, Rainsford tells his friend Whitney,

The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters.

Rainsford is a skilled hunter who can construct various traps, who knows how to track exceptionally well, and who is Darwinian in his belief that the stronger should survive others.

While he is initially horrified when deducing that General Zaroff hunts the "dangerous game" of men, once Rainsford experiences what it is like to be "a beast at bay," hunted by Zaroff as he avoids the Malay Mancatcher and other traps and terrified for his very life, Rainsford changes his judgment of horror to one of enjoyment in the place of the vanquisher. For, after he kills Zaroff, Rainsford congratulates himself on his slaughter, "He had never slept in a better bed." 

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Rainsford is an intelligent and resourceful individual.  He has to be; otherwise, he would not have survived his encounters with Zaroff.  Throughout the story, the reader sees Rainsford making traps and taking measures to hide his trail and point Zaroff in the wrong direction.  Zaroff probably appreciates these traits the most in Rainsford, because Zaroff lets Rainsford survive the first day.  

The general was playing with him! The general was saving him for another day's sport!

Apparently, Zaroff enjoyed trying to figure out all of Rainsford's trickery, and is looking forward to another day of hunting him.  If Rainsford wasn't intelligent and resourceful, Zaroff would have killed him on the spot out of boredom.  

Rainsford is also a man of some moral standing.  That's why he refuses to hunt humans with General Zaroff.  He would rather put his own life on the line than hunt down and kill another human being simply for sport.  

I would also add that I think Rainsford is a brave man.  Due to his bravery, he remains cool and calm during his flight from Zaroff.  Rainsford never gives in to feelings of panic. 


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