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The author's purpose in writing a story in which a character undergoes a change as the result of a highly emotional experience is not so much to change the character as to change the reader. Rainsford is not a real person but a character created by a writer. The intention is to induce the reader to identify with that character and thus to undergo the change the fictitious character supposedly experiences. The author does not have to describe the change in the character, since the reader has been through the same experiences in his imagination and should feel the change in himself. The reader of "The Most Dangerous Game" should come away with a feeling that killing animals for sport is not a noble thing to do but a reprehensible thing. When Rainsford kills Zaroff at the end of the story, he is probably killing the part of himself that enjoys sadistic bloodsport. The usual way to get a reader to identify with a viewpoint character is to present the character with a problem with which the reader can easily identify. In the case of "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford's problem is simply to stay alive. This is basic to all human beings. We all have a strong desire for self-preservation. A lesser motivation is hatred for Zaroff for putting him in that situation. And hatred is another basic human feeling. In Rainsford's position, we would all want to escape from Zaroff and then get back at him and kill him.
On the other hand, Rainsford hunts Zaroff in the end. He is ashamed to hear about Zaroff committing "cold blooded murder", but he lies in wait for Zaroff to show up, and does the same thing. Then he enjoys a nice dinner, suggesting he has no remorse. I think its possible to argue that Rainsford changed for the worse as a result of this story.
Since Connell never really tells us how Rainsford views hunting after he experiences it we are left to decide for ourselves based on what has happened. I think, based on his philosophical conversation with Whitney at the opening of the story that Rainsford can now say with a degree of certainty that animals feel fear and pain when they are hunted. I do not, however, think that Rainsford has changed his mind about hunting. He is a world renowned hunter. This is what he does for a living. He has a flippant attitude about the hunted, so I believe his attitude may have changed, but he will continue to be a hunter. After all, he did send Zaroff to the hounds in the end so he obviously has not changed his view on the fact that the world is made up of hunters and huntees.
Good question. I think, if Rainsford doesn't change his mind, he certainly has a new appreciation for what the prey goes through. In their initial conversation over dinner, Rainsford makes it clear that he think what Zaroff is doing is cold blooded murder. Killing an animal is one thing; killing a man is something entirely different. Given the fact that he has to spend three days as prey, and being toyed with by the hunter, I think one could make a good argument that Rainsford has changed his mind about hunting.
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