What are the survival skills of Rainsford in "The Most Dangerous Game", and what are examples of each?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As an experienced hunter, Sanger Rainsford is in possession of any number of survival skills.

First of all, Rainsford is in great physical shape because, after falling off the ship, he can swim far enough to reach the island. Also, having remembered from where he has heard the shot, he has headed in the right direction, and he is then able to reach shore. There, Rainsford pulls himself up on the rocks to a flat place where he falls into an exhausted sleep.

The next day Rainsford awakens in the afternoon. Refreshed, he heads in the direction of the shots that he has heard the previous evening. When he discovers the boot prints, Rainsford follows them until he sees lights far off in the growing darkness. But, his discovery of a chateau proves to be harrowing because Rainsford realizes that his host is a sadistic and deranged man. Rainsford is forced to become the prey of General Zaroff in a "most dangerous game." But Rainsford is very skilled in creating a trail of many twists and turns and reversals, much as a fox does.

When night approaches, Rainsford decides to "play the cat" and climb a tree where he can rest on the massive limbs. Once there he thinks to himself,

...only the devil...could follow that complicated trail through the jungle after dark. But, perhaps, the general was a devil--

When it is almost morning, Rainsford hears a startled bird. Flattening himself against the branch on which he has rested, Rainsford watches General Zaroff approach. When Zaroff's eyes travel up the tree, Rainsford shivers with fear of this "devil."

After hurriedly descending the tree after Zaroff's departure, Rainsford runs into the woods where he finds a large dead tree leaning upon a smaller one. Hurrying, Rainsford uses the knife given to him to fashion an intricate and deadly trap called a Malay man-catcher. Fortunately for the general, his acute senses alert him that the bough he has touched is the trigger of the trap, and he leaps back in time to only injure his shoulder. He departs.

When Rainsford moves on, he steps into quicksand with one foot, but he is able to pull the foot out. He then begins to dig frantically, making a pit in which he places pointed stakes--a Burmese tiger pit. Hearing his pursuer coming again, Rainsford hides where he cannot be seen, but he can listen. The sound of breaking branches soon follows, along with a piercing scream. Peering through his hiding place, Rainsford discerns that the general holds a torch, looking into the pit. It is one of the hunting dogs that has fallen on a stake.

The next day when he hears hounds, Rainsford decides to run. After climbing a tree so that he can see in what direction his pursuers come, Rainsford chooses to put into play a native trick that he learned in Uganda. He ties his knife to a sapling; then he runs because he knows the hounds will trace his scent to the knife. When the baying of the dogs stops, Rainsford climbs a tree to look. He sees the general is still alive. It is Ivan who has been hit by the recoil of the sapling, and the blade entered his body.

The athletic Rainsford runs and runs. He hears the pursuing hounds and races to where he sees blue between trees ahead of him. He is able to reach the shore; then "he leaped far into the sea." The general follows and looks at the expansive sea. He shrugs. At dinner, General Zaroff thinks to himself that by escaping, Rainsford has not played the game. However, when he retires to his bedroom, Zaroff encounters his prey. So, he tells Rainsford with a serious face, "I congratulate you....You have won the game," Rainsford replies, "I am still a beast at bay....Get ready, General Zaroff." And they duel.

dbrooks22 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rainsford is able to stay calm under pressure. He is clear-headed and doesn't panic. When he falls off of the yacht, he doesn't panic; he calmly swims to shore. Later when Zaroff is hunting Rainsford, he is able to stay calm and clear-headed and set traps in order to give him time to escape. Rainsford also relies on his hunting experience to survive. He sets up a Maylay man-catcher and a Burmese tiger pit. When Rainsford is under direct pressure and can hear Zaroff behind him, he again stays calm and quickly ties a knife to a sapling for one last chance to kill Zaroff.

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The Most Dangerous Game

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