Does Rainsford's perspective on hunting shift throughout the story "The Most Dangerous Game"? Give evidence to support your answer.

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Sanger Rainsford is considered a dynamic character who experiences a change of heart and perspective from the beginning to the end of the story. At the beginning of the story, Sanger Rainsford is insensitive toward the feelings of the animals he hunts. When Whitney tells Rainsford that he believes animals...

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Sanger Rainsford is considered a dynamic character who experiences a change of heart and perspective from the beginning to the end of the story. At the beginning of the story, Sanger Rainsford is insensitive toward the feelings of the animals he hunts. When Whitney tells Rainsford that he believes animals can feel the fear of pain and death, Rainsford responds by saying:

Nonsense...Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes—the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters (1)

As the story progresses, Rainsford proceeds to fall off the yacht and swims towards Ship-Trap Island, where he meets the maniacal General Zaroff, who decides to hunt him throughout the island for three consecutive days. Once Rainsford becomes the general's prey, he gradually begins to sympathize with hunted animals. Shortly after Rainsford crafts a Malay mancatcher, Connell writes:

He [Zaroff] stood there, rubbing his injured shoulder, and Rainsford, with fear again gripping his heart, heard the general's mocking laugh ring through the jungle (13)

The fear gripping Rainsford's heart is the same fear he previously stated that hunted animals do not experience. Rainsford's fear, stress, and anxiety are once again depicted when Connell writes:

At daybreak Rainsford, lying near the swamp, was awakened by a sound that made him know that he had new things to learn about fear (13)

By the end of the third day, Rainsford has experienced firsthand what it is like to be someone's prey, which has significantly transformed his perspective on hunting. Rainsford ends up ambushing Zaroff in his chamber and challenges him in a fight to the death by saying:

I am still a beast at bay...Get ready, General Zaroff (15)

By mentioning that he is "still a beast at bay," Rainsford reveals that he has come full circle and knows firsthand what hunted animals experience, which is significantly different from his initial attitude toward hunting. Rainsford has experienced what it is like to feel vulnerable, helpless, and terrified during the most dangerous game, which has expanded his perspective on hunting.

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Rainsford's perspective on hunting undergoes a massive change as the short story progresses from start to finish, which makes Rainsford a dynamic character.

At the start of the story, Rainsford is unsympathetic to the plight of the big game he enjoys hunting; his focus is self-centered, and he thinks only of the pleasure he experiences as a successful big game hunter, denying that the game they hunt have any kind of meaningful experience themselves. Rainsford's early conversations with Whitney before falling into the water are evidence of this attitude.

Rainss perspective changes, however, as soon as Rainsford realizes that he has become Zaroff's intended prey. At this point in the story, he understands what it feels like to fear for one's life and to have to fight for one's own survival. His reflections during the hunt demonstrate that he now understands the feelings of the game he has hunted in the past.

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I'm not entirely sure that Rainsford's perspective on hunting does change all that much throughout the story. He certainly understands, for the first time in his life, what it's like to be the hunted, but that doesn't mean that he suddenly starts questioning whether hunting is really such a worthwhile activity.

There's no sense that Rainsford will give up his favorite hobby because of his experiences on Ship-Trap Island. On the contrary, his turning of the tables on General Zaroff brings Rainsford considerable pleasure, so much so that he's able to sleep soundly in Zaroff's bed that night. This doesn't indicate someone whose conscience has been in any way disturbed—one presumes—by his killing of Zaroff or of turning the great white hunter into dog food.

Though there's little doubt that Rainsford has developed greater empathy for animals as a result of his experiences, there's every chance that he'll use that empathy to make him a more effective and more ruthless hunter in future.

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Rainsford’s perspective on hunting does shift when he becomes the hunted instead of the hunter.  At the beginning of the story, Rainsford is on a boat headed for Rio and a hunting trip up the Amazon River. He hopes to have a good hunt for jaguars.  Whitney, his friend and fellow hunter, comments that hunting is a great sport for the hunter, but not for the jaguar. Rainsford responds,

“Don’t talk rot, Whitney…..You’re a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how the jaguar feels.” (pg 1)

Whitney thinks maybe the jaguar cares how it feels.He thinks that they do understand one thing, fear.

“The fear of pain and the fear of death.” (pg 1)

Rainsford strongly disagrees.  He tells Whitney that the hot weather is making him soft.  He replies,

“The world is made up of two classes --- the hunters and the huntees.  Luckily, you and I are the hunters.” (pg 1)

When Rainsford meets Zaroff, he suddenly becomes the “huntee”. When Zaroff sends Rainsford out onto the island during their “game”, Rainsford becomes a series of animals.  First, he creates an intricate trail for Zaroff to follow recalling the, “dodges of the fox” (pg 7). When General Zaroff easily follows that trail, Rainsford tries to hide in a tree.

“Rainsford’s impulse was to hurl himself down like a panther.” (pg 8)

Zaroff smiles,and Rainsford realizes that the general is just playing with him,

“The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse.  Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.” (pg 8)

Finally, when General Zaroff brings out his whole pack of dogs, Rainsford realizes how an animal feels when it is being hunted.

“The hounds raised their voices as they hit the fresh scent.  Rainsford knew now how an animal at bay feels.” (pg 9)

Rainsford continues to refer to himself as an animal even after General Zaroff tells him he has won the game. 

“I am still a beast at bay…” (pg 9)

Rainsford has changed his opinion.  He now knows how an animal feels when it is being hunted. 

My copy of the story is from the internet so the page numbers may not coincide with your copy.  

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