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Rainsford is an old-fashioned sportsman. When he becomes the hunter rather than the hunted, he feels that he should show sportsmanlike conduct in dealing with his "prey." One of the rules of good sportsmanship is that the hunter should not try to avoid danger by any underhanded means. Ernest Hemingway had a lot to say about sportsmanship as applied to big-game hunting. His best-known works dealing with the subject are Green Hills of Africa, "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro." The only big-game hunters Hemingway admired were those who not only faced danger from wild animals but actually got a thrill out of risking their lives.
Ironically, Sanger Rainsford is much more akin to General Zaroff than he has previously thought as they dined together in the general's palatial chateau. Now, he, too, delights in "the most dangerous game" of hunting man. For, Rainsford has learned what his friend Whitney meant when he spoke of the desperate sense of fear of pain and death that the prey feel because he himself has been "a beast at bay" and felt terror. But, he returns to destroy his enemy.
Having escaped into the sea, Rainsford returns to the chateau and scales the rocks until he makes his way into Zaroff's bedroom where he confronts his adversary. Rather than wait until midnight of the next day when he would be placed upon the mainland near a town if not caught, according to Zaroff's agreement, Rainsford reverses the roles of hunter and huntee and kills his prey.
He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.
Indeed, Sanger Rainsford of New York has assumed the role of General Zaroff; he has resumed his role as the predator, and the game he has hunted is truly "the most dangerous."
Rainsford chooses to confront Zaroff in the end than to ambush him because he wanted to prove that he was the better hunter and reap in the rewards. This reveals the Rainsford is clever yet very proud of his accomplishments.
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