What is the difference between how Rainsford and Whitney feel about hunting big game in "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The opening scene of Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" takes place on a yacht. The ship is moving through the dark Caribbean night, and the captain, Whitney, is reassuring his passenger, Rainsford, that they should arrive in Rio de Janeiro in a few days. The plan is for Rainsford to do some jaguar hunting in the Amazon.

Whitney makes a simple comment that hunting is a "great sport," and the conversation turns into a short discussion of their differing philosophies about life. Rainsford does not even consider the feelings of the jaguar, while Whitney is convinced that the jaguars do understand one thing about hunting: fear. 

"The fear of pain and the fear of death."

"Nonsense," laughed Rainsford. "This hot weather is making you soft, Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters.

So, the difference between how the two men see hunting is that Whitney is, at least according to Sanger Rainsford, some kind of a romantic or idealist, worrying about the feelings of a mere animal. Rainsford, on the other hand, is the rather harsh and practical realist who does not give any consideration at all to the potential feelings of the animals he hunts. 

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