In "The Most Dangerous Game," what does it mean when Rainsford thinks "I have played the fox; now I must play the cat of the fable?"

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"The Most Dangerous Game" is a story about hunting. It specifically addresses hunting for sport or trophies rather than subsistence hunting for food. Perhaps the iconic upper-class version of hunting among the original audience would have been fox hunting, in which people entertain themselves by assembling large packs of dogs and groups of hunters to chase down a single terrified creature weighing eight or so pounds. The fox, in order to survive, hides, using small spaces inaccessible to its predators to evade capture and death.

Rainsford, like the fox, is being chased by hounds and has focused on surviving as prey. He realizes, though, that to win the game, he must cease acting like prey and become a predator. He chooses as an example of predator cats, who are stealthy, solitary hunters who choose their own place and time to pounce on unsuspecting prey.

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The fox is the animal being chased.  Rainsford has been chased all across the island.  He is tired of being the "fox."  He is tired of being hunted. He says he must now become the cat in the fable.  The cat is the hunter and Rainsford deciders to begin to think as a hunter instead of being hunted.  His role is reversed.

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