After his entrapment by General Zaroff, Sanger Rainsford begins to reassess his ideas about the hunter and the hunted. Whereas he has prievously told his friend Whitney that the hunted jaguar has no understanding of being their prey, after he is stalked by Ivan and the general, Rainsford comprehends that he now is the "mouse" and the Cossack is the "cat." And,
[T]hen it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.
Since he has now learned the terror of being "an animal at bay," Rainsford realizes that he will die if he does not escape; so, he dives far out in the waters of the sea from which he has been captured. Making his way successfully to the chateau, Rainsford is able to make his entry into Zaroff's bedroom. He confronts the Cossak because he wishes to have the general face him in combat so that he will no longer be "a beast at bay," but a hunter again:
"I congratulate you ....You have won the game."
Rainsford did not smile. "I am still a beast at bay....Get ready, General Zaroff."
For Zaroff, the hunt has, indeed, been a game. He delights in identifying the traps, and like the cat that toys with the mouse, he lets Rainsford live one night and comes back the following day in order to continue the "game." He, then, congratulates Rainsford on winning the game; however, Rainsford does not perceive Zaroff's hunt as any game since he considers himself "a beast at bay" who turns predator and kills his prey.