What happens at the end of "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford escapes from Zaroff by diving into the sea. Zaroff then returns to his mansion and eats dinner. As he eats, the story tells us, he feels annoyed about how the hunt ended (he finds it unsatisfying for it to have resolved in the manner that it did), just as he feels annoyed by the death of his servant, Ivan. Later, Zaroff retires to his bedroom for the night.

However, Rainsford has not died. Since his escape, he has hidden in Zaroff's bedroom, with the intention of killing Zaroff himself. When Zaroff discovers Rainsford, the general is delighted to learn that their contest isn't over but will conclude with one final fight to the death. The story skips over that last fight. Instead, it shows Rainsford lying in Zaroff's bed, having defeated and killed his opponent.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 9, 2019
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Near the end of Connell’s classic short story, General Zaroff and his hunting dogs close in on Rainsford, who is forced to jump into the sea to survive. Zaroff assumes that Rainsford is dead and heads back to his chateau. Later that night, General Zaroff eats dinner by himself and muses on the difficulty of replacing his reliable servant Ivan as well as his unique experience hunting Rainsford. Just before Zaroff goes to bed, Rainsford steps out from behind a curtain and challenges the general to a fight. Zaroff is initially surprised that Rainsford is alive and responds by congratulating him on winning the game. However, Rainsford is still a “beast at bay” and seeks revenge on Zaroff. Rainsford ends up killing the general in one-on-one combat and rests peacefully in Zaroff’s bed that night.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 9, 2019
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At the end of the story General Zaroff believes that Rainsford has simply given up and jumped off the cliffs and into the sea to meet his death. He is actually disappointed that Rainsford chose this method of death as opposed to finishing the game. Rainsford jumped, but not to his death and he hikes back to General Zaroff's home and hides behind his curtain to lay in wait for the hunter. The roles now swiftly change and Rainsford is now waiting for his prey instead of being the prey. Zaroff retires to his room, disappointed in the game for the night and Rainsford reveals himself and declares victory by sending Zaroff out to his killer hounds and sleeping restfully in Zaroff's big beautiful bed.

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