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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," why does Rainsford agree to become "the hunted" in General Zaroff's game?

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Rainsford is repulsed when Zaroff discloses that the prey of his new game is the human kind. He demands a way off the island immediately, but Zaroff merely provides him with a soft bed and silk pajamas for the night. The next day, after a disappointing night of hunting by Zaroff, Rainsford finds that the Cossack has other plans--plans to hunt Rainsford as his prey. Rainsford vehemently refuses to join Zaroff's next hunt, but Zaroff reminds him of the alternative, one which they have already discussed.

     "Suppose he refuses to be hunted?"
     "Oh," said the general, "I give him his option, of course. He need not play that game if he doesn't wish to. If he does not wish to hunt, I turn him over to Ivan... and he has his own ideas of sport. Invariably, Mr. Rainsford, invariably they choose the hunt."

Rainsford tells Zaroff that he will "agree to nothing of the kind," but the Russian nonchalantly responds,

"As you wish, my friend... The choice rests entirely with you. But may I suggest that you will find my idea of sport more diverting than Ivan's?"

Rainsford realizes that he has little choice but to begrudgingly accept Zaroff's challenge of the hunt. Should Rainsford refuse to play Zaroff's new game, he will be turned over to Ivan, who will probably torture him before feeding him to the dogs. With that thought in mind, Rainsford's competitive spirit wins out, and he chooses to accept Zaroff's game. At least with Zaroff's game, Rainsford is promised--on Zaroff's "word as a gentleman and a sportsman"--his freedom should he win.

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