silhouette of a man with one eye open hiding in the jungle

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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Student Question

In "The Most Dangerous Game," is General Zaroff racist?

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General Zaroff is classist and racist.

A racist is a person who considers those of other races inferior.   Zaroff is a racist because he considers people of other races fodder for hunting. A classist is a person who considers people of other classes inferior.  General Zarroff is also a classist because he thinks it is okay to kill poor people, especially sailors.  He feels that they are less valuable than others.

General Zaroff definitely considers himself superior to just about everyone else.  He is rich, and he is smart.  As far as he is concerned, that gives him godlike rights over others.  If he catches you, he can kill you. 

When Rainsford lands on Zaroff’s island, he is surprised to find out that others have been trapped there before.  Zaroff repeatedly captures sailors to use as bait for hunting.  Zaroff explains to Rainsford that he is strong, and they are weak.

“… If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships--lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."

His answer definitely appears racist, and it would be easy to dismiss him as such. However, he also has no qualms about killing Rainsford, who is white.  Zaroff does not mind killing anyone he has in his clutches.

Race is important to Zaroff.  He introduces himself to Rainsford by race.

"Oh, you can trust me," said the Cossack. "I will give you my word as a gentleman and a sportsman. Of course you, in turn, must agree to say nothing of your visit here."

I guess you could say that Zaroff is a killer.  He seems to kill indiscriminately.  He collects and kills sailors, but he also has no problem killing Rainsford. He is a terrible person and a psychopath.  

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What comments made by Zaroff in "The Most Dangerous Game" show him to be racist?

Before the fall of the Russian czar, General Zaroff was a member of the privileged class, born into great wealth and power, so it is not surprising that he has strong beliefs concerning men of a more common background. Although Zaroff obviously admires the strength of his bodyguard, Ivan, the general considers him

"A simple fellow, but, I'm afraid, like all his race, a bit of a savage."

Zaroff derides Rainsford for having " 'Puritan ancestors,' " and he separates men into two categories: the weak and the strong. His most obvious racial hatred is for many of these weak men--

"I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships--lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."

He also considers most of the common sailors he captures as an " 'inferior lot,' " so it can be said that Zaroff does hold many racial and social prejudices.

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