Why does Rainsford choose to confront Zaroff in the end of "The Most Dangerous Game" rather than simply ambush him? What does this reveal about his personality?

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There is no direct answer to this question, but using inference, we can speculate as to why Rainsford chooses his big finale at the end of the story.

Rainsford is prideful about hunting, which shows the control he holds over seemingly helpless animals. He knows he can outsmart and overpower...

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There is no direct answer to this question, but using inference, we can speculate as to why Rainsford chooses his big finale at the end of the story.

Rainsford is prideful about hunting, which shows the control he holds over seemingly helpless animals. He knows he can outsmart and overpower them with his guns and years of experience. This hubris becomes apparent when he talks to Whitney about the concept of the hunter versus the huntee.

However, the power dynamic shifts when Rainsford arrives at Zaroff's home and is given a life or death proposition. Now Zaroff is the proud hunter in control and Rainsford is a helpless huntee, but Rainford doesn't let his nerves get the best of him and sets out to use his expertise against Zaroff.

Rainsford tries a few tricks in the jungle, but it's clear he's not fooling anyone. While his booby-traps do work to some extent, they don't work on Zaroff. Rainsford quickly realizes he is way in over his head. He needs to get on a level playing field with Zaroff, and he knows it won't happen in the jungle.

In the end, Rainsford waiting for Zaroff in his bedroom is the ultimate irony. Zaroff starts hunting humans because he wants to be outsmarted. He wants to hunt something that can challenge him, and Rainsford is literally everything he asks for. Zaroff gets what he wants.

However, Rainsford and Zaroff don't see eye to eye when the rules are laid out, and Rainsford realizes this could never be a fair match because Zaroff has his gun. Rainsford finally sees what Whitney was talking about. Irony reigns again. By waiting in Zaroff's bedroom, Rainsford is turning the tables back to his advantage, but he is also leveling the playing field. Rainsford is making them fight it out like animals in the wild removing the hunter/huntee paradigm. The best man, or animal, will win. There are no tricks and what would have been murder turns into self-defense. It could be conceivable that Rainsford's heart wouldn't let him kill a human the same way he would kill an animal. It seems the heart of the answer lies in the fact that Rainford's perspective on hunting changes when he becomes the huntee. Maybe it's his pride. Maybe it's his heart. Maybe it's simply his competitive nature oozing out of his angry body.

In the end, Rainsford's choices reveal he is a prideful, competitive man who is not one to give up easily. He fought for his life and refused to let Zaroff win. His competitive nature and steady hands show he is a strong, courageous person who would literally fight to the death if it meant keeping his life. However, his pride, just like Zaroff, got him into this mess in the first place. It seems it was pride that led him into the bedroom to stalk his prey and become the ultimate hunter.

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That's a good question.  There isn't any textual evidence that directly tells readers why Rainsford doesn't simply shoot Zaroff in the back from a concealed location.  I think one possible reason is pride.  Rainsford wants Zaroff to know that he has been beaten.  Rainsford also wants Zaroff to know that Rainsford beat him.  If Rainsford took a sneaky shot at Zaroff, Zaroff wouldn't know that he had been beaten by Rainsford.  Zaroff would just be dead.  Rainsford is a popular hunter.  His skills have made him famous, and he still finds hunting normal animals thrilling. On the other hand, Zaroff pompously claims that he has grown bored with hunting the most dangerous animals in the world.  In a way, Zaroff seems to be claiming that he is a far better hunter than Rainsford because animals are not a challenge anymore.  By showing himself, Rainsford essentially says, "See, I knew you weren't better than me."  

Perhaps another reason has nothing to do with pride.  Perhaps Rainsford simply wants Zaroff to know what it feels like to be the prey.  Rainsford has been hunted to within an inch of his life, and nothing was fun about it.  Zaroff thinks it is great fun because he is not the one being hunted.  Rainsford's motivation might be just wanting Zaroff to feel what it's like to have the tables turned.  

A third possible reason deals with Rainsford's general character.  Rainsford is a reasonably moral man.  Zaroff presents a fairly logical explanation as to why hunting humans is acceptable.  Rainsford isn't even intrigued in the slightest.  He's appalled from the very beginning, and he calls Zaroff a murderer.  

"Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder."

I think Rainsford's morality just won't let him shoot a man in the back.  That's why he confronts Zaroff instead of ambushing him.  

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