What do you think are the main strengths that lead Rainsford to victory in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main conflict between General Zaroff, the hunter, and Sanger Rainsford, the "huntee," finds its resolution in death; specifically, it is the death of the Russian general, Zaroff. Ironically, if Zaroff had not given Rainsford a second chance the first day, Rainsford would be the victim, instead. 

What, then, are Rainsford's main strengths which have lead him to his victory?

  • His reputation as a skilled and seasoned hunter intrigues and excites Zaroff.  Having reached a state of "Ennui. Boredom" with hunting mere animals, Zaroff expresses his growing disappointment even with some of his new prey, such as the sailors from the San Lucar. So, because Rainsford is a much more challenging foe, Zaroff gives him a second chance. For, he has tracked Rainsford to the tree which he has climbed, glances up and "[V]ery deliberately he blew a smoke ring into the air; then he turned carelessly away back along the trail he had come." Rainsford knows that the general has extended the hunt another day.

The general was saving him for another day's sport!....Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.

  • The next day, after Rainsford has nearly defeated him with a Malay man-catcher, Zaroff congratulates his prey and returns to his chateau in order to have his wound treated. Again he is intrigued and excited by this "most dangerous game" with Rainsford. Rainsford flees, but later hears the general in pursuit, living "a year in a minute." Still, the general gives him a reprieve in order to prolong the hunt.

"I think, Mr Rainsford, I'll see what you can do against my whole pack. I'm going home for a rest now. Thank you for a most amusing evening."

Then, when the hounds are upon him, Rainsford fashions another trap, having learned several from his many experiences. This time Ivan falls victim, and the chase is stalled temporarily. Soon, however, Rainsford hears the hounds. However, he is, then, daring enough to leap "far out into the sea." At this point Zaroff thinks that perhaps Rainsford has escaped and "hadn't played the game." Therefore, when he retires to his bedroom at the end of the night, Zaroff does not expect to find Rainsford there.

Rainsford's finely honed skills as a hunter and Zaroff's pleasure in prolonging the hunt with one so accomplished as Rainsford are Rainsford's greatest assets in defeating his foe. 

Read the study guide:
The Most Dangerous Game

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