Did Rainsford change his mind about hunting by end of the story?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As a dynamic character in Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," Sanger Rainsford does undergo changes in his attitude about hunting.  In the exposition of the story, for instance, he becomes petulant with his fellow hunter, Whitney, who sympathizes with the plight of the jaguars that he and Rainsford are traveling to hunt:

"Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford...."Who cares how a jaguar feels?"

"Perhaps the jaguar does," observed Whitney.

"Bah!  They've no understanding."

"Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear.  The fear of pain and the fear of death."

"Nonsense," laughed Rainsford.

Later in the narrative, however, as he is being tracked by General Zaroff, Rainsford, who has been hunted for a day, hears the baying of Zaroff's hounds drawing nearer and nearer.  On a ridge, he climbs a tree.  Looking down a watercourse, he can see Ivan holding a pack of dogs in leash.  Knowing that the dogs and hunters will soon be upon him, he swings on a sapling:

Then he ran for his life.  The hounds raised their voices as they hit the fresh scent.  Rainsford knew now how an animal at bay feels.

In another character change, Rainsford is at first appalled that the jaded General Zaroff hunts "the most dangerous game" of mankind.  When at dinner, the general announces his "ideal quarry," and laughs,

"I refuse to believe that so madern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harboring romantic ideas about the value of human life.  Surely your experiences in the war--"

"Did not make me condone cold-blooded murder," finished Rainsford stiffly.

Having show disgust for killing a man in cold-blood, Rainsford, neverthess, returns to the chateau of Zaroff's and hides in the curtains of the bed only to step out before the general realizes his presence. When he sees Rainsford, the general congratulates him for having won the game.  But Rainsford says,

"I am still a beast at bay...Get ready, General Zaroff."

The general made one of his deepest bows.  "I see," he said.  "Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds.  The other will sleep in this very excellent bed.  On guard, Rainsford."

He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.

This last sentence, coming after the swordfight which elevated Rainsford from a "beast at bay,"  Rainsford finds himself the victor, and now one who obviously has condoned the "cold-blooded murder" that he disdained at the dinner table with Zaroff on his first night.

Indeed, Sanger Rainsford changes his opinions about hunting on two fronts:  He alters his unconcern for the feelings of the prey and sympathizes later on, knowing how it feels to be a "beast at bay" as he himself is hunted; also, he abandons his repudiation of Zaroff's "cold-blooded murder" of men and commits a cold-blooded act of murder himself: 

"He never slept better," Rainsford thought.

 

 

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I don't think we can say that for sure. Rainsford, upon hearing General Zaroff struggle with boredom, certainly grew disgusted with the moral problem of hunting man. It also likely made him think about the words he had recently uttered to Whitney about how a jaguar can't really feel.

What I do think we can say is that by the end, Rainsford's perception of hunting was likely well challenged. After having been positioned as prey, he certainly does now know how a jaguar feels. However, the story ends so abruptly, that we never have the opportunity to hear his feelings about that. I believe the author did this on purpose so we as audience members would be left thinking about the issue.

michaelg98's profile pic

michaelg98 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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poop

 

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