Does Rainsford believe that conflict is a universal condition? Why or why not?

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readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a good question, but it must be said right from the beginning that we cannot give a definitive answer, because nowhere in the short story does Rainsford speak on this topic.  In fact, he is not a philosophizing type of man at all.  All we have are descriptions of Rainsford.  Therefore, we have to make deductions.  If we do, I would say that Rainsford does believe that conflict is a universal condition.

First, in the beginning of the story, Rainsford has a conversation with his friend, Whitney.  During this conversation, he says to Whitney that there are only two classes in the world – the hunter and the hunted.  From these words, it does seem that Rainsford believe that conflict is universal, because if there are these two classes, conflict will be inevitable.

Second, as the story progresses, Rainsford finds himself in the midst of a game of life and death with general Zaroff. When this happens, what Rainsford said earlier comes true.  He is the hunted and Zaroff is the hunter.  Conflict ensues.

At the end of the story, Rainsford comes face to face with Zaroff and presumably kills him. This is suggested as Rainsford sleeps in Zaroff’s bed.

In conclusion, it is probable that Rainsford believes that conflict is a universal condition.