How does Rainsford's attitude about hunting differ from Whitney's?

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On the yacht heading to South America where they will hunt jaguars, Rainsford and Whitney disagree over hunting. Whitney suggests that the animals they hunt have feelings such as fear and pain. Rainsford totally disregards these ideas and claims the animals have "no understanding" of what is happening to them. Rainsford is a selfish hunter. He views it as his prerogative to hunt down animals. It is, for him, the "best sport in the world" and he certainly isn't going to let thoughts of the animal get in the way of his enjoyment. He tells Whitney, "Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes—the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are the hunters."

This conversation provides foreshadowing for Rainsford's later encounter with General Zaroff. The general makes the same basic argument when he explains to Rainsford why he hunts men. He claims it is his right. He is the fittest and strongest. He says, "If I wish to hunt, why should I not hunt?" The early discussion with Whitney also proves to be ironic because later, when Rainsford is being hunted, he does feel the "fear of pain and the fear of death" as he is being pursued by Zaroff through the jungles of the general's island. At the end he refers to himself as a "beast at bay" and readers may infer that he will give up hunting after his bizarre confrontation with Zaroff.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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