At the beginning of "The Most Dangerous Game," did Rainsford have any feeling for the animals he hunted, and how did his experience change his feelings?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear from his discussion with Whitney at the beginning of "The Most Dangerous Game" that Rainsford has no sympathy for the animals he kills. Both of the men agree that hunting is "the best sport in the world." But Whitney is quick to add,

     "For the hunter...  "Not for the jaguar."
     "Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"

Rainsford claims that animals have "no understanding." But Whitney disagrees.

     "Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death."
     "Nonsense," laughed Rainsford. "This hot weather is making you soft, Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters."

But after Rainsford becomes the prey himself while being hunted by General Zaroff, he discovers a fear that only the hunted can feel. He repeatedly reminds himself to keep his nerve. He becomes tired and "leg-weary." When Zaroff allows Rainsford to escape for another day's hunt, recognized that

The general was playing with him! The general was saving him for another day's sport! The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse. Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror. 

Read the study guide:
The Most Dangerous Game

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