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The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how did Rainsford win?

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Rainsford won the most dangerous game by relying on his survival and hunting skills to avoid and outwit General Zaroff for three consecutive days on Ship-Trap Island. Rainsford also builds several effective booby traps that slow down the general, and he is able to leap into the sea before Zaroff can shoot him. At the end of the story, Rainsford kills Zaroff in a duel and sleeps comfortably in his bed.

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Rainsford wins the game through his skill as a hunter. Of course, Rainsford's game with Zaroff is unlike any of his other hunts in that he is the one being pursued. Instead of trying to fight Zaroff head-on, Rainsford must evade him entirely. Rainsford is admirable in how adaptable he is to this situation. He must assume a whole new set of tactics to "win," such as hiding, creating booby traps, and fashioning false trails to get Zaroff off his scent.

Zaroff's inability to inhabit the perspective of both the hunter and the hunted is what puts him at a disadvantage in the game. He is an arrogant man who believes he is superior to not only all animals but to "lower" humans as well (which he defines as low-class people and non-whites). He cannot conceive that his prey could outwit him, even if humans are more rational than animals.

In their last confrontation in Zaroff's bedroom, the two have a more conventional battle that ends with Rainsford killing his pursuer. Here, the two are ironically not playing hunter and hunted, but come off more as two beasts fighting for dominance (Rainsford even calls himself "a beast at bay"). Ultimately, a combination of his hunting expertise, his ability to assume the mindset of prey and predator, and his physical strength allow Rainsford to gain the upper hand in the game.

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Rainsford is able to win the “game” by showing himself to be a stronger representative of the human race than his antagonist, General Zaroff. Zaroff had always believed in a warped kind of Darwinism, in which the strong have the absolute right to dominate and control the weak, and the weak, the so-called inferior species, go to the wall. Not surprisingly, Zaroff believed himself to be one of the strong.

However, it transpires that Zaroff couldn't have been more wrong. For it turns out that Rainsford was much stronger than him, as can be seen by the way that he outwits his pursuer during their “game”. Rainsford's superior survival skills, not to mention his outstanding skills as a hunter, enable him to gain the upper hand on the man hunting him down like an animal.

Rainsford may be a hunter himself, but by putting himself in the position of a hunted animal, he's able to turn the tables on Zaroff. This puts him at a distinct advantage to his pursuer, as Zaroff, with his obsession with the idea of the strong dominating the weak, is incapable of thinking like a hunted animal. Rainsford eventually drives home his advantage, with fatal consequences for the defeated Zaroff.

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford swims to the nearby Ship-Trap Island after falling overboard and arrives at General Zaroff's palatial chateau, where he eats dinner with the seemingly civilized, hospitable general. During their first meal together, Zaroff admits that he hunts humans throughout his island for sport, and Rainsford is disgusted by the general's confession. When Rainsford refuses to hunt alongside the general, Zaroff turns him into a contestant in the most dangerous game. Rainsford is given a small number of supplies and forced to avoid the armed general for three consecutive days throughout the island.

During the most dangerous game, Rainsford utilizes his survival skills and relies on his experience as a renowned hunter to evade and outwit General Zaroff. Rainsford creates false paths, fashions deadly booby traps, and carefully traverses the dangerous island to avoid Zaroff. Rainsford makes a Malay Mancatcher, digs a Burmese Tiger Pit, and builds a Ugandan Spring Trap to significantly slow down the general, buying himself enough time to create more distance between himself and Zaroff. Towards the end of the story, Rainsford realizes that the general is closing in on him and makes the risky decision to jump into the Caribbean Sea. Fortunately, Rainsford manages to swim ashore and sneaks into Zaroff's room, where he surprises the unsuspecting general and defeats him in a duel. In conclusion, Rainsford ends up winning the most dangerous game by evading General Zaroff for three consecutive days on Ship-Trap Island before killing him inside his bedroom.

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After Sanger Rainsford swims to Ship-Trap Island and is introduced to the maniacal General Zaroff, he discovers that the general hunts humans—what Zaroff refers to as the most dangerous game—on the island. As part of the general's scheme, Rainsford is given hunting clothes, a knife, and a small ration of food that will last for three days. Rainsford must survive on the island for three days while the general hunts him using a small caliber pistol and help from his servant and hunting dogs. Rainsford ends up winning this game by successfully avoiding General Zaroff and surviving for three consecutive days on Ship-Trap Island. After Rainsford wins the game, he sneaks into the general's room in his massive chateau, where he ends up killing the general in a one-on-one fight to the death.

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In Connell's short story The Most Dangerous Game, Rainsford was able to defeat General Zaroff.

Rainsford is challenged by Zaroff to a hunt. Zaroff has become bored by hunting "typical" prey (given their inability to reason). Given that only man can reason, Zaroff has decided to hunt man. Rainsford, forced to the island, has become Zaroff's new prey.

Zaroff challenges Rainsford to a deadly hunt, where only the survivor can be named the winner. Knowing that Rainsford is a skilled hunter, Zaroff believe this hunt will be his most worthy yet.

In the end, Rainsford is able to beat Zaroff by killing him. Rainsford is able to escape capture by making Zaroff think that he died. Rainsford returns to Zaroff's castle, surprises him, and kills him. Therefore, Rainsford wins the game by exterminating Zaroff.

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How does Rainsford outsmart Zaroff?

In "The Most Dangerous Game," General Zaroff hunts Sanger Rainsford throughout Ship-Trap Island, and Rainsford must rely on his survival skills and resourcefulness to endure the harrowing experience. Rainsford outsmarts Zaroff by leading the general directly into deadly booby traps that he learned to make during past hunting expeditions. After Rainsford discovers that Zaroff is an expert hunter capable of following an intricate path in the jungle at night, he resorts to making his first booby trap to stall his advance and hopefully end the general's life.

Rainsford understands that Zaroff is an arrogant hunter who believes he is infallible and cannot be defeated. Rainsford uses Zaroff's pride and overconfidence against him by forcing the general to reassess the island and the way he hunts. Zaroff is used to quickly catching his quarry and moves carelessly at a fast pace. Rainsford uses this to his advantage, and the booby traps he makes are a reliable method to counter the general's attack. Rainsford is also careful not to replicate the same trap twice in order to keep the general on his toes. Zaroff dramatically underestimates Rainsford's skill and does not take into account the various ways his victim can be on the offensive.

The first booby trap that Rainsford constructs is a "Malay mancatcher," and Zaroff accidentally steps on its trigger, causing a massive dead tree to fall in his direction. Although Zaroff survives the trap, he is wounded and must return to his chateau to recover. Rainsford later digs a Burmese tiger pit, which claims the life of one of Zaroff's most prized hunting dogs. Rainsford's skill at constructing booby traps poses a serious threat to Zaroff and creates more distance between the two men.

Rainsford's final booby trap, which he had learned in Uganda, claims the life of Ivan and buys Rainsford enough time to run and jump into the sea before Zaroff catches him. In addition to Rainsford's resourcefulness in the jungle and clever booby traps, he also outsmarts General Zaroff by swimming to his chateau and sneaking into his bedroom, where he challenges him to combat. General Zaroff mistakenly underestimates Rainsford's skill as a survivalist and pays the ultimate price at the end of the story.

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What is one way Rainsford tries to beat Zaroff in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

One way that Rainsford tried to beat Zaroff was building a pit for him to fall into.

Rainsford was fearing for his life when he went through the forest to the Death Swamp of quicksand.  Zaroff was gaining on him, and he had nowhere else to go.  This was his last recourse.  He digs a pit and covers it so it can’t be seen.      

These stakes he planted in the bottom of the pit with the points sticking up. With flying fingers he wove a rough carpet of weeds and branches and with it he covered the mouth of the pit.

Rainsford has skills both as a soldier and as a hunter.  He has to call upon these skills to survive.  He decides to build a Burmese tiger pit.  He thinks Zaroff might fall in because he seems to be coming unusually swiftly.

You've done well, Rainsford," the voice of the general called. "Your Burmese tiger pit has claimed one of my best dogs. Again you score. I think, Mr. Rainsford….

In a way, Rainsdford scores a victory.  General Zaroff stops for the night and goes home.  This buys Rainsford a more peaceful night.  He earned the right to rest, even if he did not capture the general.  However, there was a consequence.

I’ll see what you can do against my whole pack. I'm going home for a rest now. Thank you for a most amusing evening.

Partly to rev up the game and partly as revenge for losing the dog, Zaroff decides to return the next day with the entire pack.  So while Rainsford was able to win a short victory, he also got himself into trouble.  Now he has to fight off not just one dog, but a whole pack.

This incident greatly increases the suspense.  We are not sure if Rainsford will survive.  We are not sure if he got Zaroff.  When Zaroff says he is going to retun the next night, we know that Rainsford is really in for it.

Rainsford is in an impossible situation.  He is being hunted deliberately like an animal.  Even when he was in the war, he did not feel as threatened.  The building of the tiger pit is an example of Rainsford’s ingenuity and clear-headedness.  Yet it is also an example of how uneven the fight was, since he had almost nothing and Zarrof had a pack of dogs and more weapons. 

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In "The Most Dangerous Game," how does Rainsford finally outwit Zaroff's dogs?

Rainsford swims across the bay, doubling back to the "castle" while the dogs have been sent out (along with Ivan) to flair his trail. In this way he accomplishes three things:

  1. He gains time by going back to the castle in a straight line.
  2. By being in the water the dogs can't trace his scent.
  3. He ambushes Zaroff where he least expects him, while at the same time being safe from the dogs outside.

Finally, it's not the dogs Rainsford outwits but Zaroff himself.

Incidentally, Zaroff's favourite hunting dog falls victim to one of Rainsford's traps, originally intended for Ivan, Zaroff's butler and henchman.

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