Before arriving at the island, what is Rainsford's position on hunting in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early -- very early -- in Richard Edward Connell's short story The Most Dangerous Game, there is an exchange between the story's protagonist, Sanger Rainsford, and his hunting partner, Whitney, regarding their upcoming adventure in the jungles of the Amazon. In this exchange, Rainsford's attitude toward hunting is made very clear:

Whitney: We should have some good hunting up the Amazon. Great sport, hunting.

Rainsford: The best sport in the world.

Whitney: For the hunter. Not for the jaguar.

Rainsford: Don't talk rot, Whitney. You're a big game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?

Sanger Rainsford's attitude toward hunting is as positive as an attitude can get. He lives for hunting; it defines him. That is the purpose of his travels to exotic locales like the Amazon, and, his passion for hunting is key to Connell's plot, which revolves around General Zaroff's ability to 'turn the tables' on his unsuspecting victim. It is through the psychotic general's "game" that Rainsford is, for the first time, allowed to experience his own favorite past-time through the eyes of the hunted rather than the hunter. The above passage illuminates Rainsford's cavalier attitude towards other species. For him, animals exist only for his entertainment. Now that he has been forced to assume the role of animal, he can understand the moral dimension of hunting a little better.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of Richard Connell's short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford and Whitney discuss the differences between the hunter and the prey. Rainsford states that hunting is the greatest sport in the world. Whitney agrees, but adds, "for the hunter... Not for the jaguar." Rainsford claims that animals have no feelings nor understanding, but Whitney disagrees, saying that they must

"... understand one thing--fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death."

Rainsford laughs at his friend's suggestion, assuring him that

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

Rainsford, of course, was right about their lucky nature as humans and the ability to handle a rifle, but he had not considered the possibility of their positions being reversed--or of another type of prey being hunted. He will soon come to learn that the hunted can indeed have understanding, and feel the fear of pain and the fear of death.

Read the study guide:
The Most Dangerous Game

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