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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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How did Zaroff's treatment of Rainsford change in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

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Zaroff's treatment of Rainsford changes as the story progresses. He initially treats Rainsford as a guest, but later he subjects him to a dangerous game in which, if Rainsford is caught, Zaroff will kill him.

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Zaroff treats Rainsford as his guest at the start of the story. He presents himself as a gentleman. Zaroff's first remark to Rainsford shows his kind reception:

In a cultivated voice marked by a slight accent that gave it added precision and deliberateness, he said, "It is a very great...

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pleasure and honor to welcome Mr.Sanger Rainsford, the celebrated hunter, to my home."

His kindness continues through much of the dinner the men share together. Zaroff politely offers warm, dry clothing to Rainsford, and he says that he will wait for him so that they can eat dinner together. He explains:

I was about to have my dinner when you came. I'll wait for you. You'll find that my clothes will fit you, I think.

He hopes to present Rainsford with a delicious dinner. Zaroff is concerned that every detail demonstrates that he is a good-mannered gentleman:

We do our best to preserve the amenities of civilization here. Please forgive any lapses . . . Do you think the champagne has suffered from its long ocean trip?

After eating, Zaroff continues to show generosity to Rainsford, offering him cigarettes:

The general took from his pocket a gold cigarette case and offered his guest a long black cigarette with a silver tip; it was perfumed and gave off a smell like incense.

Even after Rainsford discovers the expectations of Zaroff's dark game, Zaroff continues to behave as a gentleman:

The general laughed with entire good nature.

As they continue to talk about Zaroff's game, Zaroff's servant brings Rainsford coffee.

He raised his hand, and Ivan, who served as waiter, brought thick Turkish coffee.

Additionally, Zaroff argues his civility by saying that his opponents are not forced to participate:

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 . . . Invariably, Mr. Rainsford, invariably they choose the hunt.

With Rainsford, a renowned and experienced hunter, Zaroff agrees that Rainsford must only survive three days of the game to win:

I'll cheerfully acknowledge myself defeated if I do not find you by midnight of the third day . . . Oh, you can trust me . . . I will give you my word as a gentleman and a sportsman.

Even as the men play their game, the general speaks as though he is a respectable gentleman to Rainsford:

"Rainsford," called the general, "if you are within sound of my voice, as I suppose you are, let me congratulate you. Not many men know how to make a Malay mancatcher."

Here, Zaroff applauds Rainsford's talents at evading danger. Later, when Rainsford again avoids Zaroff, he once more compliments Rainsford's skills:

"You've done well, Rainsford," the voice of the general called.

Throughout the story, General Zaroff acts as a gentleman, using polite language and offering hospitality to Rainsford. However, his manners are surprising to readers since Zaroff is also requiring Rainsford, as well as many other innocent people, to play his wretched, and extremely dangerous, game.

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At the beginning of the story, Zaroff treats Rainsford with honor and respect. When the two characters first meet, Zaroff knows that he is in the presence of another great hunter. Zaroff is honored to host Rainsford, and Zaroff would very much like to have Rainsford accompany him on a hunt. I believe at this point in the story Zaroff is hoping that Rainsford will be a fellow hunting buddy.  

"We will have some capital hunting, you and I," said the general. "I shall be most glad to have your society."

Rainsford is adamant that he will not hunt another human being. He even goes so far as to demand release from the island.

"General," said Rainsford firmly, "I wish to leave this island at once."

It's at that moment that Zaroff's treatment of Rainsford changes.

"I wish to go today," said Rainsford. He saw the dead black eyes of the general on him, studying him. General Zaroff's face suddenly brightened.

Zaroff no longer treats Rainsford like a potential hunting partner. Instead, Zaroff treats Rainsford like any other potential human prey of his. Zaroff knows that Rainsford is in good health. Zaroff gives Rainsford a knife, and Zaroff gives Rainsford the same three-day deal that he gives the other victims.

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I don't believe Zaroff in any way changes his treatment of Rainsford during the story. Although Zaroff graciously wines and dines Rainsford before revealing his true intentions, Zaroff continues to treat Rainsford honorably, adhering to his own rules of the game without breaking them. Zaroff promises that Rainsford can have his freedom if Rainsford eludes him during the time that is established, and Zaroff keeps his word. When Zaroff returns to his home, he knows that he has lost the game, and there is no inclination that he will look for Rainsford further. Later, when they meet again, he tells Rainsford that "You have won the game." When Rainsford announces that a new game will begin, Zaroff accepts the terms.

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How does Rainsford change throughout the story "The Most Dangerous Game"?

In "The Most Dangerous Game," Sanger Rainsford changes as he is forced to access the most instinctive and ruthless parts of himself in order to survive.

As the story begins, Sanger Rainsford, a successful big-game hunter, falls off a yacht and washes up on Ship-Trap Island, the home and hunting ground of General Zaroff. In their initial interactions, Rainsford finds himself responding to Zaroff's cultured and aristocratic manners, but he will react in horror upon learning of his host's penchant for hunting human beings. In this, Rainsford adheres to the morality of civilized society, condemning Zaroff as a murderer. Even so, he will soon find himself participating in Zaroff's hunt, this time as the quarry.

In order to survive, Rainsford will require all of his skill and ingenuity as a hunter, even as he faces the primal terror and anxiety that comes with being hunted. At the same time, trapped in this battle of life and death, he will cast aside any hesitation about killing another human being: after his first attempt at evading Zaroff fails miserably, he begins to adopt more potentially lethal countermeasures. In the end, he escapes his opponent by leaping into the sea, before surprising Zaroff in his own home, the site of their final battle to the death.

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What happens to Zaroff? Does Rainsford change his mind about hunting by the end of "The Most Dangerous Game"?

The surprising ending to the story provides a reversal of fortunes for both Rainsford and Zaroff. When Rainsford survives the plunge from the cliff and then shows up in Zaroff's bedroom, the general graciously concedes the contest.

"I congratulate you," he said. "You have won the game."

Zaroff would probably have honored the terms of the hunt and provided Rainsford with safe passage off the island. But the past three days as the hunted prey of Zardoff has hardened Rainsford, and he wants revenge. The old hunt will continue, Rainsford warns the Cossack. "I am still a beast at bay." Zaroff understands and he seems happy with the prospect of another human hunt--even if he is to now be the prey. 

"Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds. The other will sleep in this very excellent bed. On guard, Rainsford..."

The final line of the short story provides the answers to your questions.

He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.

Rainsford is the only survivor: He has won the hunt, apparently killing Zaroff and possibly even feeding him to the dogs. Rainsford, who considers Zaroff a murderer, sleeps the sleep of the dead. He has won the hunt, but unlike Zaroff, Rainsford will probably be satisfied with his trophy--Zaroff, a murderer who has tried to kill him--and not grow to love it like Zaroff.

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In the short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," how do Rainsford's views on hunting animals change when he becomes General Zaroff's prey?

In the short story, "The Most Dangerous Game",  Rainsford is a big game hunter who falls off a yacht and lands on General Zaroff's island.  He and Zaroff have a discussion about the hunting of prey and the challenge hunting represents.  When Rainsford becomes Zaroff's prey in a hunting game where humans are killed as game animals, Rainsford uses all his skills as a hunter to elude Zaroff.  Despite killing the servant Ivan and one of the dogs in his traps for which he shows no remorse, Rainsford realizes that Zaroff is toying with him to prolong the game.  He is horrified to learn that all his skill is not enough to truly outwit Zaroff.  Finally, he surprises Zaroff in his bedroom that night, and though Zaroff is willing to end the game, Rainsford is not and kills Zaroff, sleeping in the General's bed that night.  Rainsford has now killed in cold blood instead of calling the authorities, he has enjoyed killing the general, he has not set the other captive prey free, and makes no move to change anything.  Rainsford is terrified when he is the prey, but now as the victor, maybe he will become the new General Zaroff who hunted humans.  The author lets the reader enjoy the violence and suspense, and perhaps this suggests that Rainsford did also as he is no longer prey.  

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