After Rainsford hears of General Zaroff’s game, he is horrified. He calls the general a murderer. The general considers the hunt a very civilized game. He tells Rainsford,
“Dear me, what a righteous young man you are! I assure you that I do not do the thing you suggest. That would be barbarous.” (pg 6)
He very carefully outlines for Rainsford how the game is played. He traps the sailors with the use of lights that indicate a channel where no channel exists. There are only jagged rocks. The ships crash, and Zaroff takes the men and imprisons them in his cellar. He still thinks he is civilized when he says,
“I treat these visitors with every consideration. They get plenty of good food and exercise. They get into splendid physical condition. You shall see for yourself tomorrow.” (pg 6)
Zaroff then tells Rainsford about his training school. Once they are trained, Zaroff “suggests” to one of them that they go hunting.
“I give him a supply of food and an excellent hunting knife. I give him three hours’ start. I am to follow, armed only with a pistol of the smallest caliber and range. If the quarry eludes me for three whole days, he wins the game. If I find him…… he loses. “ (pg 6)
Rainsford asks two questions at this time. First, what if the man wins? He is told that it has never happened. One almost won, but the general brought out his dogs, and that was the end of that hunt. Secondly, Rainsford wants to know what happens if the person refuses to hunt. Zaroff explains,
“I give him his option, of course. He need not play that game if he doesn’t wish to. If he does not wish to hunt, I turn him over to Ivan. Ivan once had the honor of serving as official knouter to the Great White Czar, and he had his own ideas of sport. Invariably, Mr. Rainsford, invariably they choose the hunt.” (pg 6)
A knout was a whip used in Russia. So Ivan had been the person who whipped people for the Great White Czar of Russia. The candidates for the game would prefer to handle their own fate against Zaroff than be whipped to death. Zaroff felt he was giving them a fair choice.