How is General Zaroff feeling about his contest with Rainsford in "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game," General Zaroff is living on a deserted Caribbean island so he can hunt in private. He was once a Russian hunter of big game but found himself getting bored; what he does now is horrific. He hunts humans.

While hunting the sailors and others whom he lures onto the island has been more challenging than any of the game (animals) he used to catch, Zaroff is thrilled to have a real challenge in the form of the renowned hunter, Sanger Rainsford.

The general calmly explains how he decided to hunt humans:

"So I said, 'What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?' And the answer was, of course, 'It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason."'

The general explains that he is beginning to get bored with the "inferior" humans he has been hunting. He refuses to grant Rainsford's request to leave the island and explains his theory about the hunt:

"You'll find this game worth playing," the general said enthusiastically." Your brain against mine. Your woodcraft against mine. Your strength and stamina against mine. Outdoor chess! And the stake is not without value, eh?"

"And if I win--" began Rainsford huskily.

"I'll cheerfully acknowledge myself defeat if I do not find you by midnight of the third day," said General Zaroff. "My sloop will place you on the mainland near a town." The general read what Rainsford was thinking.

"Oh, you can trust me," said the Cossack. "I will give you my word as a gentleman and a sportsman. Of course you, in turn, must agree to say nothing of your visit here."

"I'll agree to nothing of the kind," said Rainsford.

"Oh," said the general, "in that case--But why discuss that now?

Finally, Zaroff sets the specific terms for the hunt: he will provide Rainsford with food, a knife, and hunting clothes, including moccasins. The hunt will begin tonight. Zaroff intends to take a nap and says he will begin at dusk; however, he is certain Rainsford will want to get a head start. As he leaves, General Zaroff says, "Hunting at night is so much more exciting than by day, don't you think? Au revoir, Mr. Rainsford, au revoir." Clearly the general is eager to hunt Rainsford.  

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The Most Dangerous Game

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