In the story "The Most Dangerous Game," how is Sanger Rainsford described physically; in addition, what is his motivation early in the story and how does it change as the narrative continues,...

In the story "The Most Dangerous Game," how is Sanger Rainsford described physically; in addition, what is his motivation early in the story and how does it change as the narrative continues, including his feelings that change?

 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A world-renowned hunter, described as "having good eyes"--keen eyesight-- Sanger Rainsford travels down the Amazon in order to hunt jaguars. As he talks with his friend Whitney, Rainsford indicates that he is simply motivated by being the hunter, and is unconcerned about the "huntees." Later on, he changes his mind and understands and is motivated by what it is to be the "huntee."

The trip which Rainsford has planned is quickly ended, however, when the famous hunter falls over the side of his ship in an effort to retrieve his pipe, he finds himself in a life-and-death struggle with the sea until he manages to reach a shore. Upon awakening the next day, Rainsford tries to hikes in the direction of shots he heard the night before he discerns a magnificent chateau, three sides of which are positioned over a cliff. Rainsford lifts the knocker, and when a sinister-looking man answers, Rainsford introduces himself and explains that he has fallen off a yacht. Then, General Zaroff appears, a strange-looking man who recognizes Rainsford as an author of hunting books.

Treated with Old World courtesy, Rainsford is afforded a change of clothes and invited to join Zaroff in a lavish dinner. Little does he know, however, that the "bizarre quality" that he has detected about Zaroff is due to his jaded sadistic nature that is only satisfied by hunting the "most dangerous" of all game--man--because hunting has ceased to be challenging. Appalled, Rainsford informs Zaroff that he condemns "cold-blooded murder."

The next day Rainsford finds himself in the position of what he has called "the huntee." And despite his expert knowledge of traps and other methods of deception as he is pursued on the "dangerous game's" first of three days by Zaroff, Rainsford realizes that the general has discovered him in a tree, although he departs. Now, Rainsford comprehends what it is to be the "huntee":

It sent a shudder of cold horror through his whole being....Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.

As he attempts to keep his nerve, Rainsford constructs another trap, but he yet has "fear gripping his heart." Then, as he is hunted again by Zaroff, Rainsford "lived a year in a minute." "His mind must work frantically" as he tries to stay ahead of death. For, after he has eliminated one of Zaroff's best hunting dogs, Rainsford must "run for his life." 

After his experiences as prey to the formidable and insane adversary, General Zaroff, Rainsford changes his initial lack of concern for the "huntee" and now truly understands and is motivated by what it is like to be hunted as "a beast of prey."

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