Because of his background, including his tenure as a soldier in World War I and his experience as a big game hunter, Rainsford proves to be something of an elusive and crafty prey for the sociopathic hunter General Zaroff . When Rainsford is initially released from Zaroff's chateau, equipped only...
Because of his background, including his tenure as a soldier in World War I and his experience as a big game hunter, Rainsford proves to be something of an elusive and crafty prey for the sociopathic hunter General Zaroff. When Rainsford is initially released from Zaroff's chateau, equipped only with some food and a hunting knife, he runs blindly into the jungle, admitting that he was not "entirely clear-headed." Once he regains his senses he realizes that "straight flight was futile" and that he must cut a circuitous and therefore untraceable trail through the woods. Rainsford is sadly disappointed when the general follows his trail to the last broken branch and stands under the tree which Rainsford has chosen as a hiding place. The general stops and even smokes a cigarette. Rainsford quickly realizes that Zaroff knew very well exactly where Rainsford was hiding but wanted to prolong the hunt. Rainsford thinks, "The general was playing with him! The general was saving him for another day's sport! The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse."
Rainsford understands that Zaroff is even more cunning then he had first thought and so, in his flight, he devises three booby traps which are intended to maim or kill the general. First, not far from the tree where he first hid, Rainsford finds two trees "precariously" balanced on each other and here he devises a "Malay man-catcher" which is intended to be triggered by a footfall. When Zaroff gets to the trap he is instantly suspicious and just as he sets the trigger he leaps away and the branch grazes his shoulder. Only slightly wounded, the general is much impressed with Rainsford's trick:
"Rainsford," called the general, "if you are within sound of my voice, as I suppose you are, let me congratulate you. Not many men know how to make a Malay man-catcher. Luckily for me I, too, have hunted in Malacca. You are proving interesting, Mr. Rainsford. I am going now to have my wound dressed; it's only a slight one. But I shall be back. I shall be back."
After "some hours" of "hopeless flight" after the failure of the Malay man-catcher, Rainsford comes to the "Death Swamp" and has an idea. Rainsford, with a nod to his trench experience in the war, digs a giant pit which he covers with "a rough carpet of weeds and branches." Inside the pit are a series of wooden spikes. The "Burmese Tiger Pit" is meant to kill and it does the trick but, unfortunately, it only claims the life of one of Zaroff's "best dogs" and the general lives on.
Finally, with Zaroff's pack of dogs led by Ivan hotly pursuing him, Rainsford fabricates the Ugandan knife trap which involves a "springy young sapling" acting as a catapult hurling his hunting knife "down the trail." Again, however, Rainsford is foiled in his attempt to stop Zaroff. The trap "had not wholly failed" for it had brought down Ivan but the general was still on the hunt. Without options Rainsford jumps from a cliff into the sea far below.