A significant plot point in “The Most Dangerous Game” is when Rainsford survives Zaroff’s first night, and Rainsford realizes he is enjoying the chase.
Rainsford is horrified when he learns that his host on the deserted island hunts human beings for fun. He is terrified when he realizes that he will be Zaroff’s next game.
The general was playing with him! The general was saving him for another day's sport! The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse. Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.
At this point, Rainsford decides that he has to outwit the general to survive. He desperately wants to live, but he also wants to defeat the man. He feels humiliated and terrified, and wants revenge on Zaroff for making him feel that way. From this point on, Rainsford is clever and uses his cunning to play with Zaroff, rather than the other way around. Eventually Rainsford wins, and kills Zaroff not in self-defense so much as revenge.