Who wins the "most dangerous game"? Support your answer with evidence from "The Most Dangerous Game."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
The obvious answer is that Rainsford wins, because he survives the game. He kills Zarroff and Isaac. On the other hand, you could also argue that Zaroff wins because he turns Rainsford into a killer. Rainsford kills Zaroff after he won, when he is possibly in no danger. Of course, you could argue that he was in danger anyway because Zaroff might have killed him.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The winner of The Most Dangerous Game is you, the reader. You were able to put aside the important and unimportant things in your day and make some time to read one of the most tightly-plotted, succinct, fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping short stories ever written, and with luck, you came out the other end changed for the better; a better understanding of short-story mechanics; a better understanding of some age-old hunting techniques; a better understanding of the drive to live at any cost; and perhaps, a better appreciation for your life in a world where you will probably not be hunted for sport by a madman.


(Yeah, the previous posters got all the good literary answers already.)

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
I would agree with post 5 that no one really wins. Rainsford manages to defeat Zaroff, but at what cost? He has gone through a terrible ordeal and it has changed him considerably. He is against murder in the beginning and appalled at Zaroff's game. Eventually, he has to kill Ivan and several dogs. Finally, he kills Zaroff and spends a peaceful night in Zaroff's bed. He is so changed from the character we saw in the beginning. Now he is able to murder a man and sleep soundly in his bed. I think we have to say that no one comes out of the most dangerous game a winner.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In context of a hunt and of a game, which is the context of the story in accord with how Zaroff sets his part of the world up, then Rainsford is the clear winner. The difficulty arises when the win is viewed through a moral glass, whcih is precisely the point made by Connell: disregard for humankind's humanity--to focus only on humankind's scientific definition as part of the animal kingdom--is immoral.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think this question can be debated, as #2 makes clear. Firstly, Rainsford's triumph over Zaroff clearly would lead us to suggest that he is the winner of "the most dangerous game." He successfully manages to trick Zaroff, killing him at the end showing his greater skill over Zaroff as a hunter.

However, I would like to suggest that there are actually no "winners." Rainsford, in spite of his moral objections to hunting humans as game, actually goes on to play the game very well, compromising on his own belief that humans should not hunt each other by killing Zaroff. In this way, therefore, we could argue that this short story suggests that there are no winners; only losers.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I have a very hard time seeing Zaroff as the winner here.  To me, there are three choices.

It could be Rainsford.  He's the obvious choice given that he is the one who stays alive.  He has also, as the first post says, gained some knowledge and understanding. If I didn't mind giving the obvious answer, he is the one I would choose.

It could be that the real winners are the sailors of the Caribbean.  Zaroff has been luring them to the island to be killed for years now.  At least that (we assume) will end.

I think, though, that I would say that no one wins in this story.  Zaroff dies, which can hardly be considered winning.  So has Rainsford won?  Perhaps.  But he is likely to be scarred by the whole thing.  He will presumably either A) have terrible memories of this harrowing event or B) feel so exhilirated by the experience that he simply takes over for Zaroff.  Many people suggest that this is the meaning of the last line of the story -- that he is going to take Zaroff's place.  In either situation, Rainsford is emotionally and/or morally harmed.  In that case, no one has won.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The question "who wins the most dangerous game" (from Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game") can be looked at in two very specific ways.

First, one could consider Rainsford the winner. He is able to defeat Zaroff's challenge and win at the game of survival. Another way that Rainsford can be considered the winner is in regards to a conversation which takes place between Rainsford and Whitney.

"Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"

"Perhaps the jaguar does," observed Whitney.

"Bah! They've no understanding."

"Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death."

Here, a reader can see that, in the end, Rainsford is able to see the point of the jaguar. Rainsford has become the prey and truly understands the fear of death. In regards to this, Rainsford has won.

The second way to consider who has won the most dangerous game would be to examine Zaroff. Zaroff could be considered a winner of the game given he was able to find the most dangerous game ever: Rainsford.

"I wanted the ideal animal to hunt," explained the general. "So I said, `What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?' And the answer was, of course, `It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason."'

"But no animal can reason," objected Rainsford.

"My dear fellow," said the general, "there is one that can."

Here, Zaroff recognizes the importance of finding the most dangerous game. He has done this in "acquiring" Rainsford (a renowned hunter himself). The fact that he was able to lure one of the most renowned hunters of the time can be considered a win.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial