In Richard Edward Connell's story The Most Dangerous Game, General Zaroff is hunting Rainsford. What advantages does General Zaroff have during the hunt?

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miketeachkc's profile pic

miketeachkc | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Gen. Zaroff has several obvious advantages over Rainsford, such as weaponry, knowledge of the ground and the fact that he is the hunter.  However, he also has the advantage of experience as a hunter.  Zaroff has done this before, and he is psychologically prepared to kill Rainsford.  It takes a certain mindset in order to commit murder, and Zaroff has made this jump.  It isn't just experience hunting animals that Zaroff has accomplished, but he has also had experience hunting men.  

Much of the enjoyment received from reading "The Most Dangerous Game" is from the discoveries made by Rainsford as he is trying to stay alive.  It is, however, the psychological thrill and horror of how one man can get to a place where he can only get pleasure out of murdering his fellow man that keeps us entranced.

kipling2448's profile pic

kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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General Zaroff, the antagonist in Richard Edward Connell's short story The Most Dangerous Game, has several significant advantages over his human prey, chief among them being his vastly superior knowledge of the terrain across which he tracks his captives. Zaroff exists as a virtual king over the island he occupies with his deaf mute henchman Ivan. His favorite activity, of course, is hunting, and he has mastered the details of this island in a way his temporary captives-turned-prey cannot replicate. This knowledge, strongly implied throughout, is displayed in the general's warning to Rainsford against venturing towards "the big swamp in the southeast corner of the island," which the general calls the "Death Swamp." As all of the general's human victims are strangers to the island, his knowledge of the terrain constitutes an enormous advantage.

Another advantage General Zaroff enjoys over his human prey is the fact that he hunts with a pistol, while his intended targets are armed only with a hunting knife. While a pistol's range is limited relative to that of a rifle, it provides far more range than a knife, which must obviously be used at point-blank range.

A third major advantage the general has over his victims is their latter's far more limited education and experience at hunting. These human targets are overwhelmingly sailors whose ships have sunk near the island, occasionally with the assistance of the general's tactics at luring such vessels to their doom. The general's relishes his pursuit of Rainsford precisely because the latter is an accomplished hunter himself and highly educated. Describing his disappointment with the previous night's hunt, Zaroff notes regarding the sailors he pursued and killed, "That's the trouble with these sailors; they have dull brains to begin with, and they do not know how to get about in the woods. They do excessively stupid and obvious things." In other words, these uneducated seamen are no match for the skilled Zaroff. While Rainsford is far more prepared to survive this ordeal than the sailors, he is still at a distinct disadvantage. 

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