General Zaroff poses as a civilized man living in civilized surroundings while committing the most uncivilized actions possible toward other humans. His Cossack upbringing is a partial explanation for his behavior. Cossacks were among the fiercest of Russia's soldiers during the 19th and early 20th centuries, known for their excellent horsemanship skills and their loyalty to the Czar. The Cossacks were displaced and dispersed following the overthrow of Czar Nicholas, and this is presumably why Zaroff is now living on his isolated island. He symbolizes both the last of a dying breed of faithful soldier as well as a horrible new breed of killer.
"The Most Dangerous Game" is repleat with animal imagery and hunting symbolism:
I hope the jaguar guns have come from Purdey's.
...high screaming sound, the sound of an animal in an extremity of anguish and terror.
a large animal--had thrashed about in the underbrush; the jungle weeds were crushed down and the moss was lacerated;
About the hall were mounted heads of many animals--lions, tigers, elephants, moose, bears; larger or more perfect specimens Rainsford had never seen.
...but my real interest was always the hunt. I have hunted every kind of game in every land. It would be impossible for me to tell you how many animals I have killed.
Connell uses animal and hunting symbolism to underscore his survivalist themes and to blur the line between animal and human fear and suffering. All the characters, Whitney, Rainsford, Zaroff, and Ivan are hunters, and they seem to think humans are not only the best hunters but the best prey.
The color crimson is a subtle detail that appears at least twice in the short story. First, as Rainsford washes up on shore, he notices the color on the "lacerated" plants. Next, we are told General Zaroff's sash is crimson. The color is vibrant, violent, and bold--much like the game itself.
In the story, after Rainsford and Whitney had a conversation, he said he had heard 3 gun shots. This is numbered symbolism. Odd numbers usually show something bad is about to happen.
Another is is the color black. They say Ivan and General's eyes were black. This also symbolizes evil.