In "The Most Dangerous Game" identify the advantages Rainsford has after he beats Zaroff.

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Richard Connel's short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," Sanger Rainsford is a big game hunter on his way to South America to hunt jaguars. While traveling by yacht he accidentally falls overboard and swims to a nearby island, notoriously named "ship-trap island."

At the beginning of the story Rainsford has a discussion with his companion Whitney about hunting. The purpose of the conversation is to provide foreshadowing for events to come in the story. Rainsford contends that the animals he hunts have no feelings whatsoever and that it is perfectly natural for the hunter to hunt down and kill the hunted. Whitney disagrees and says,

"Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The of pain and the fear of death."

This brief interaction is significant because once Rainsford meets General Zaroff on the island he soon knows exactly what an animal being hunted experiences. Zaroff is a Russian who has come to this island specifically to hunt. Because he has grown bored with hunting animals he now hunts the men he captures when their ships sink along the coast of the island.

Zaroff initially treats Rainsford as an honored guest, but, when Rainsford refuses to join his diabolical hunt, he sends his guest into the jungle armed only with a knife and a head start, after which he methodically hunts him down. Rainsford's resourcefulness saves him and by the end of the hunt he has killed one of Zaroff's best dogs, his servant and has made his way back into the general's palatial chateau. When Rainsford reveals himself in the general's bedroom they fight. Before they duel the general says,

"One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds. The other will sleep in this very excellent bed."

We know Rainsford wins the duel because the last lines of the story say, 

He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.

So, on the surface, we discover one of Rainsford's advantages. He lives, while the general dies. He is also able to sleep in the bed. But implicitly Connel wants to tell the reader that Rainsford is a changed man and that hunting has lost its appeal. He knows what it is to be a "beast at bay." The reader cannot tell for sure but may guess that Rainsford will never use a gun against an animal again.  Rainsford has the gained the most human characteristic of compassion after his encounter with the sadistic Zaroff.


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The Most Dangerous Game

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