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

The Most Dangerous Game

by Richard Edward Connell

Start Free Trial

Discussion Topic

Rainsford's experiences and decisions in "The Most Dangerous Game."

Summary:

Rainsford's experiences and decisions in "The Most Dangerous Game" revolve around his survival instincts and moral choices. Initially, he is a hunter, but after being stranded on an island, he becomes the hunted. His strategic decisions and resourcefulness enable him to outwit General Zaroff, ultimately leading Rainsford to confront and defeat Zaroff, thereby asserting his own survival.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What happens if Rainsford wins in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

When Zaroff arranges the conditions of the competition between himself and Rainsford, he offers Rainsford the chance to go free. The condition is that Rainsford must survive the hunt for three full days. Should he manage to do so, Zaroff claims he will have Rainsford taken to the "mainland near a town." He adds that he wants Rainsford not to tell anyone about what transpires on Ship-Trap Island, but, defiant and indignant, Rainsford says he cannot promise to do so.

Zaroff's reaction to this refusal hints that he will not let Rainsford go free if he will not agree to these terms:

"Oh," said the general, "in that case—But why discuss that now?"

Though he paints himself as a gentleman whose word alone can be counted as a bond, Zaroff is still a violent criminal interested in preserving his way of life. Though he confesses he sometimes gets bored even with hunting people, he still enjoys doing what he does. To let Rainsford go would be to jeopardize his lifestyle.

In the end, the only way Rainsford is actually able to win is by killing his opponent. After doing so, Rainsford sleeps in Zaroff's large bed that night, ending the story on a slightly ambiguous note. Rainsford might go to the mainland to share what happened with the authorities, or he might take the general's place as master of the island.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What happens when Rainsford joins the hunt in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Rainsford has little choice but to accept Zaroff's proposal to serve as the human prey in "The Most Dangerous Game." He would face certain death from Ivan and the dogs if he refuses to play the game. Zaroff knows that Rainsford will provide him with his greatest challenge yet, and Rainsford does not fail to deliver. After Zaroff prolongs the hunt an extra day--recognizing that Rainsford was hiding above him in a tree--Rainsford realizes that Zaroff was just toying with him for the extended sport of the hunt. Rainsford's traps, including the Malay mancatcher and the Burmese tiger pit, do not succeed altogether, but they injure Zaroff and kill one of the dogs. Rainsford's escape probably does not totally surprise Zaroff, but his reappearance in the Cossack's bedroom at the end of the story surely did.

As for your cartoon, there are a number of scenes which you could choose to depict. Rainsford hiding in the tree, preparing one of his traps, or even surprising Zaroff in his bedroom would all be good choices.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Does Rainsford's perspective on hunting change in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Sanger Rainsford is considered a dynamic character who experiences a change of heart and perspective from the beginning to the end of the story. At the beginning of the story, Sanger Rainsford is insensitive toward the feelings of the animals he hunts. When Whitney tells Rainsford that he believes animals can feel the fear of pain and death, Rainsford responds by saying:

Nonsense...Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes—the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters (1)

As the story progresses, Rainsford proceeds to fall off the yacht and swims towards Ship-Trap Island, where he meets the maniacal General Zaroff, who decides to hunt him throughout the island for three consecutive days. Once Rainsford becomes the general's prey, he gradually begins to sympathize with hunted animals. Shortly after Rainsford crafts a Malay mancatcher, Connell writes:

He [Zaroff] stood there, rubbing his injured shoulder, and Rainsford, with fear again gripping his heart, heard the general's mocking laugh ring through the jungle (13)

The fear gripping Rainsford's heart is the same fear he previously stated that hunted animals do not experience. Rainsford's fear, stress, and anxiety are once again depicted when Connell writes:

At daybreak Rainsford, lying near the swamp, was awakened by a sound that made him know that he had new things to learn about fear (13)

By the end of the third day, Rainsford has experienced firsthand what it is like to be someone's prey, which has significantly transformed his perspective on hunting. Rainsford ends up ambushing Zaroff in his chamber and challenges him in a fight to the death by saying:

I am still a beast at bay...Get ready, General Zaroff (15)

By mentioning that he is "still a beast at bay," Rainsford reveals that he has come full circle and knows firsthand what hunted animals experience, which is significantly different from his initial attitude toward hunting. Rainsford has experienced what it is like to feel vulnerable, helpless, and terrified during the most dangerous game, which has expanded his perspective on hunting.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Does Rainsford's perspective on hunting change in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Rainsford's perspective on hunting undergoes a massive change as the short story progresses from start to finish, which makes Rainsford a dynamic character.

At the start of the story, Rainsford is unsympathetic to the plight of the big game he enjoys hunting; his focus is self-centered, and he thinks only of the pleasure he experiences as a successful big game hunter, denying that the game they hunt have any kind of meaningful experience themselves. Rainsford's early conversations with Whitney before falling into the water are evidence of this attitude.

Rainss perspective changes, however, as soon as Rainsford realizes that he has become Zaroff's intended prey. At this point in the story, he understands what it feels like to fear for one's life and to have to fight for one's own survival. His reflections during the hunt demonstrate that he now understands the feelings of the game he has hunted in the past.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Does Rainsford's perspective on hunting change in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

I'm not entirely sure that Rainsford's perspective on hunting does change all that much throughout the story. He certainly understands, for the first time in his life, what it's like to be the hunted, but that doesn't mean that he suddenly starts questioning whether hunting is really such a worthwhile activity.

There's no sense that Rainsford will give up his favorite hobby because of his experiences on Ship-Trap Island. On the contrary, his turning of the tables on General Zaroff brings Rainsford considerable pleasure, so much so that he's able to sleep soundly in Zaroff's bed that night. This doesn't indicate someone whose conscience has been in any way disturbed—one presumes—by his killing of Zaroff or of turning the great white hunter into dog food.

Though there's little doubt that Rainsford has developed greater empathy for animals as a result of his experiences, there's every chance that he'll use that empathy to make him a more effective and more ruthless hunter in future.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Does Rainsford's perspective on hunting change in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Rainsford’s perspective on hunting does shift when he becomes the hunted instead of the hunter.  At the beginning of the story, Rainsford is on a boat headed for Rio and a hunting trip up the Amazon River. He hopes to have a good hunt for jaguars.  Whitney, his friend and fellow hunter, comments that hunting is a great sport for the hunter, but not for the jaguar. Rainsford responds,

“Don’t talk rot, Whitney…..You’re a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how the jaguar feels.” (pg 1)

Whitney thinks maybe the jaguar cares how it feels.He thinks that they do understand one thing, fear.

“The fear of pain and the fear of death.” (pg 1)

Rainsford strongly disagrees.  He tells Whitney that the hot weather is making him soft.  He replies,

“The world is made up of two classes --- the hunters and the huntees.  Luckily, you and I are the hunters.” (pg 1)

When Rainsford meets Zaroff, he suddenly becomes the “huntee”. When Zaroff sends Rainsford out onto the island during their “game”, Rainsford becomes a series of animals.  First, he creates an intricate trail for Zaroff to follow recalling the, “dodges of the fox” (pg 7). When General Zaroff easily follows that trail, Rainsford tries to hide in a tree.

“Rainsford’s impulse was to hurl himself down like a panther.” (pg 8)

Zaroff smiles,and Rainsford realizes that the general is just playing with him,

“The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse.  Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.” (pg 8)

Finally, when General Zaroff brings out his whole pack of dogs, Rainsford realizes how an animal feels when it is being hunted.

“The hounds raised their voices as they hit the fresh scent.  Rainsford knew now how an animal at bay feels.” (pg 9)

Rainsford continues to refer to himself as an animal even after General Zaroff tells him he has won the game. 

“I am still a beast at bay…” (pg 9)

Rainsford has changed his opinion.  He now knows how an animal feels when it is being hunted. 

My copy of the story is from the internet so the page numbers may not coincide with your copy.  

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Most Dangerous Game," do you think Rainsford's attitude towards hunting changes through the story? Explain.

At the start of the hunt, Rainsford clearly was appalled by the idea that he would be the hunted. It was one thing to hunt animals, but the idea of hunting a human being was not something he had ever considered. However, as the tables turned and he used his skill to ultimately defeat Zaroff, if anything he has added another form of hunting to his repertoire. He does not feel that he is doing anything wrong by killing the hunter and usurping his "throne" (taking Zaroff's bed). This is clearly a change in attitude toward hunting, but not the change that one might have expected from the start.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Most Dangerous Game," do you think Rainsford's attitude towards hunting changes through the story? Explain.

I'm not so sure that Sanger Rainsford's love of hunting animals changed a great deal during the James Connell short story, "The Most Dangerous Game." Rainsford certainly comes to understand what it feels like to be hunted after his ordeal with General Zaroff. However, Rainsford seems more repulsed at Zaroff's idea of the ultimate hunt--stalking humans--than he does with hunting animals. The idea of hunting humans was sickening to Rainsford from the start, although he certainly used his repertoire of tricks to try and entrap Zaroff. At the end, when he settles into the wonderful bed and the well-earned sleep, he seems satisfied at the revenge that he has dealt the Russian. No doubt the human kill would not have tempted him to continue such "entertainment." Nor will he give up his quest for big game animals.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Most Dangerous Game," do you think Rainsford's attitude towards hunting changes through the story? Explain.

I do not see anything that would indicate that Rainsford's attitude towards hunting has changed over the course of the story.

You would think that being hunted himself might make him feel like hunting is not such a great thing after all, but we see no indication of that.

Instead, Rainsford uses tricks he has learned from hunting to stay alive.  He has no qualms about using those tricks to kill the dogs and the people following him.  And when he gets back to Zaroff's place, he doesn't feel bad about killing him and sleeping in his bed.  That implies that he is okay with the idea of hunting (and some people believe that he intends to take Zaroff's place and continue hunting the most dangerous game...)

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

By the end of "The Most Dangerous Game," has Rainsford changed his mind about hunting?Support your answer with evidence from the text.

It does seem that Rainsford has done an about face concerning his previous beliefs and statements concerning murder and the prey's understanding of fear and death. Rainsford had earlier told Whitney that the hunter's prey has "no understanding" of the fear of pain or death. But when Rainsford becomes the huntee of Zaroff, he soon feels all of the emotions that he had so easily dismissed. At the end of the story, when Rainsford surprises Zaroff in his bedroom, Zaroff honorably names Rainsford the winner of the hunt. Despite Zaroff's past acts of murdering his human victims, there is no reason to believe that he will not honor the rules of the game. Instead, Rainsford wants to continue the hunt, and this time he apparently kills the Russian. Whether Rainsford's days on the run has made him envious of switching places with Zaroff, or whether his act is simply one of revenge, Rainsford has taken to murder, and he seems content with the result.

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

Although dead tired from his ordeal, the final line seems to show that Rainsford has also enjoyed this final hunt, and one can only wonder what prey he will next choose to stalk.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the end of "The Most Dangerous Game," do you think Rainsford changes his mind about hunting?

One of the ironies of Connell's famous story is that in the exposition of "The Most Dangerous Game," Rainsford and his friend Whitney, who are on the ship in the Caribbean night, argue about the prey that they will soon hunt. Whitney contends that the jaguar possesses an understanding of pain and fear; Rainsford disagrees,

"Nonsense....This hot weather is making you soft, Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters."

Rainsford has also remarked, "Who cares how a jaguar feels?" But, after his harrowing experience as a "beast at bay" as he calls himself when he and the general come vis-à-vis in the Zaroff's bedroom, Rainsford has probably changed his attitude about hunting. While he yet prefers to be the hunter--he revels in his victory as he sleeps in Zaroff's bed, having defeated this predator--surely, Rainsford must now consider the feelings of his prey since since having had this experience himself. It is, therefore, most likely that before he shoots whatever he hunts in the future, he may pause for a split second and recall the gripping fear of the "beast at bay" that he himself has known. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In the end of "The Most Dangerous Game," do you think Rainsford changes his mind about hunting?

No.  I do not think that the ordeal with Zaroff changes Rainsford's mind about hunting.  I think he still enjoys hunting.  I think he still is fairly cold.  And I still think he finds hunting humans distasteful.  

Rainsford is a world renowned hunter.  I don't think his ordeal changes anything, especially knowing that he slept quite soundly after killing Zaroff.  Early in the story the reader is introduced to the fact that Rainsford is good at hunting and has little sympathy for his prey.  

“…We should have some good hunting up the Amazon. Great sport, hunting."

Rainsford: "The best sport in the world."

"For the hunter," amended Whitney. "Not for the jaguar."

[…]

"Bah! They've no understanding."

"Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death." 

Rainsford doesn't even believe that the animals he hunts have fear.  They have no understanding of what is happening.  I think Zaroff feels the same way, which is why he enjoys hunting the only animal that can reason -- humans.  Rainsford is appalled and intrigued all at the same time, but ultimately doesn't agree to hunt a human.  The downside of that decision is that he becomes the hunted.  

I've read an analysis or two that say Rainsford enjoyed killing Zaroff and is likely to begin and enjoy hunting humans too.  Basically Rainsford will continue Zaroff's sadistic tendencies, and that's why Rainsford slept so well.  I disagree.  I think Rainsford slept so well because he knew that his life was no longer in danger.  He killed Zaroff out of self defense, and he can now finally relax after his three days of not doing much sleeping.  It's even conceivably possible that Rainsford has become even more immune to any feelings that his prey might have and that's why he slept great.   It's my guess that he goes back to hunting with an even cooler/colder attitude toward his prey than before.  

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Does Rainsford's mind change about hunting by the middle of the story "The Most Dangerous Game"?

There is some evidence that Rainsford does change his mind about hunting in "The Most Dangerous Game" near the middle of the story.

In the exposition as Sanger Rainsford and his friend Whitney travel to Rio de Janeiro to pick up guns with which they will hunt jaguars, the two men discuss the dynamics of the hunt. Whitney remarks that the hunt will be no fun for the jaguar, but Rainsford interjects, "Who cares how a jaguar feels?" Still, Whitney speculates that the jaguars understand fear when they become man's prey--"The fear of pain and the fear of death." But Rainsford dismisses this opinion: "Bah! They've no understanding."

After Whitney retires for the night, Rainsford hears gunshots and he tries to see from where it has come by jumping up on the rail. However, he falls from the yacht into the dark waters of the sea on a moonless night. When he surfaces, he tries to get the attention of someone on the yacht, but the ship keeps going. After swimming a great distance, Rainsford finds the shore. On the next day, he discovers a chateau on the island and climbs toward it. Unfortunately for Rainsford, this beautiful place is inhabited by General Zaroff, a sadistic and experienced hunter who finds that he is only excited by hunting humans. To his shock, Rainsford learns that he is to be hunted the next day in this "most dangerous game" of man versus man. For the first time, Rainsford is the prey rather than the predator.

Soon thereafter, he begins to understand some of what his friend Whitney has said about the huntee's experience of fear. One could make the case that his own feelings of fear as he is hunted are strong enough to change his mind about hunting; he realizes how it feels to be the prey. It's important to note, however, that Rainsford never explicitly states that he has changed his mind about hunting.

On the second day as he is hunted, Rainsford is terrified; he has climbed a tree in the hope that the pursuing Zaroff will not find him. But the general, who possesses uncanny powers, has followed his trail in the dark. When he sees the general look up and smile, "Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror."

After he slides down from the tree, Rainsford pulls out his knife and sets to work on a Malay man-catcher, but when Zaroff returns, the general is able to dodge the trap, injuring only his shoulder. Rainsford feels "fear again ripping his heart..." because he knows that the predator Zaroff will return.

Toward the end of the story, Rainsford will explicitly identify himself as "a beast at bay"—suggesting he has recognized the fear he feels in the middle of the story is akin to what the animals he hunts may feel. Though he never says he's changed his mind about the merits of hunting, one could use this evidence to build an argument for the idea that he won't go on to inflict the fear he has felt on other creatures.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

By the end of the story, "The Most Dangerous Game," does Rainsford change his mind about hunting?

"The Most Dangerous Game" is an example of the slick, commercial short fiction that used to be published in magazines but has pretty much gone out of fashion because the people who read such escapist fiction now spend their leisure time watching television or playing video games instead. Editors of the magazines that published adventure-escapist stories had one rule in common. They thought that the major character should change as the result of his harrowing experiences. If he didn't change, then the experience couldn't have been very important or very hazardous. So commercial writers would take care to establish that the viewpoint character had changed by the end of the story, even though he might not appear to be much different to the reader. Sometimes the writer would even wind up with dialogue such as this:

"You've changed."

"Have I? Yes, you're right. I guess I have."

Is it really true that a person's character would be changed if he or she went through a really traumatic experience?

"The Most Dangerous Game" is just a superior work of slick fiction. It was published in onw the better class magazines which paid more money. They were printed on "slick" paper, as opposed to the "pulp magazines" which were printed on cheap paper and paid as little as one cent a word, whereas the "slicks" would pay around ten cents a word, and more to authors whose names had value in selling copies of the magazines. Most of the slick magazines that published short fiction have gone out of business or else converted to articles. Most of the pulp magazines have disappeared. There used to be whole rows of pulp magazines at drug stores, grocery stores, and news stands. There were westerns, mysteries, romances, true detectives, science-ficition, and others. Television changed all that. "The Most Dangerous Game" would definitely hCW gone to a slick magazine because of the good quality of the writing and the intriguing idea, but it is not serious literature. Readers identify with the hero because they keep wondering what they would do themselves if they were placed in the same perilous situation.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

By the end of the story, "The Most Dangerous Game," does Rainsford change his mind about hunting?

Certainly, after his experiences on Ship-Trap Island Sanger Rainsford has gained new perspectives about hunting.

  • In the exposition of the story while he and Whitney talk in anticipation of their hunting of the jaguar, Whitney remarks that as prey the beasts know the fear of pain and the fear of death, but Rainsford dismisses this observation as "nonsense."
  • After he falls overboard and washes up on Ship-Trap Island and is taken to the chateau of Gerneral Zaroff, Rainsford is appalled when his host explains what he means by "more dangerous game."
  • While he is involved in this "more dangerous game" as the prey, Rainsford learns what it is to be "a beast at prey" as he hides upon the limb of a tree; thus, he changes his attitude expresses earlier as "nonsense" and knows that those fears Whitney has mentioned are real:

Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror....He lived a year in a moment.

  • After leaping into the sea, Rainsford returns to the general's chateau when, as the general himself has reflected before retiring for the night, "his quarry escaped him."

This action of returning to confront Zaroff and his reaction after he kills the general--"He had never slept in a better bed"--indicate that Rainsford has changed. For, having learned how prey feel and having enjoyed the "most dangerous game," of hunting and killing Zaroff, Sanger Rainsford has, indeed, changed his mind about hunting.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why does Rainsford agree to become "the hunted" in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Rainsford is repulsed when Zaroff discloses that the prey of his new game is the human kind. He demands a way off the island immediately, but Zaroff merely provides him with a soft bed and silk pajamas for the night. The next day, after a disappointing night of hunting by Zaroff, Rainsford finds that the Cossack has other plans--plans to hunt Rainsford as his prey. Rainsford vehemently refuses to join Zaroff's next hunt, but Zaroff reminds him of the alternative, one which they have already discussed.

     "Suppose he refuses to be hunted?"
     "Oh," said the general, "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... and he has his own ideas of sport. Invariably, Mr. Rainsford, invariably they choose the hunt."

Rainsford tells Zaroff that he will "agree to nothing of the kind," but the Russian nonchalantly responds,

"As you wish, my friend... The choice rests entirely with you. But may I suggest that you will find my idea of sport more diverting than Ivan's?"

Rainsford realizes that he has little choice but to begrudgingly accept Zaroff's challenge of the hunt. Should Rainsford refuse to play Zaroff's new game, he will be turned over to Ivan, who will probably torture him before feeding him to the dogs. With that thought in mind, Rainsford's competitive spirit wins out, and he chooses to accept Zaroff's game. At least with Zaroff's game, Rainsford is promised--on Zaroff's "word as a gentleman and a sportsman"--his freedom should he win.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why does Rainsford agree to become "the hunted" in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

General Zaroff is excited about Rainsford's being on his island because he has become jaded and finds no challenge in the "prey" he has been hunting. Now, he expects Rainsford to offer him excitement and challenge both.

When General Zaroff welcomes Rainsford it is with enthusiasm and praise:

"It is a very great pleasure and honor to welcome Mr. Sanger Rainsford, the celebrated hunter, to my home...
I've read ;your book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet, you see...."

As they dine, Zaroff explains to Rainsford that he lives for the hunt and for danger. Further, the general remarks that he has hunted almost every kind of game there is and has become satiated with hunting animals. So, now he has invented "a new sensation," he tells Rainsford, who is appalled when he learns the meaning of Zaroff's phrase, "the most dangerous game."

Therefore, with Rainsford as his "dangerous game" to hunt, Zaroff is thrilled since such an expert hunter as Rainsford himself will offer new and exciting challenges to him. In fact, this love of the challenge becomes Zaroff's undoing as he allows Rainsford to live another day after he has trailed this new prey to a tree.

The general was saving him for another day's sport. The general was the cat; he was the mouse.

And, just as many a cat has done in its deadly play with a mouse, the mouse escapes. For, it is Rainsford who ends up the victor of the dangerous hunt.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why is Zaroff glad that it is Rainsford who has come to the island in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Zaroff is glad that it is Rainsford who has come to the island because he knows that Rainsford is a "celebrated hunter".  Zaroff has read Rainsford's famous book "about hunting snow leopards in Tibet", and so is familiar with the author's expertise in the field.  Zaroff recognizes that, with his knowledge and experience, Rainsford would be a formidable opponent in his sinister game.  He looks forward with intense anticipation to test his wits against such a worthy foe.

Zaroff is such an accomplished hunter that he has become bored with the sport.  He has hunted every animal known to man, and has won every time.  In his search for an adversary which would provide him with more of a challenge in the hunt, Zaroff has come up with the macabre idea to hunt the only creature who, because it possesses the benefit of reasoning ability, has the potential to make the hunt more interesting to him - man himself.  Zaroff, who has been capturing anonymous sailors and using them as prey, is becoming bored with even them, however, as he has found that "they have dull brains to begin with, and...do excessively stupid and obvious things" as they try to escape the hunter.  Since Rainsford is world reknowned for his expertise in the sport, Zaroff knows he will provide a definite challenge for him as the hunted, and is looking forward to a stimulating and interesting chase.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Most Dangerous Game," why was Zaroff glad that it was Rainsford who had come to the island?

Coincidentally, General Zaroff had heard of Rainsford before and was quite familiar with his reputation as a successful hunter.  Upon arriving at his mansion, Rainsford's first meeting with Zaroff shows evidence of this in the way that Zaroff compliments him, saying, "It is a very great pleasure and honor to welcome Mr. Sanger Rainsford, the celebrated hunter, to my home."  He continues this by explaining how he knows who Rainsford is: "I've read your book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet, you see."  He later deems Rainsford a worthy opponent when he informs him that he (Rainsford) will act as his prey in that evening's hunt, saying, "I drink to a foe worthy of me at last."  Zaroff's passion for the sport of hunting is so great that he actually longs for prey that may actually beat him and escape.  He has gotten so good that it has become too easy, and so he is happy to meet Rainsford, knowing that his knowledge of the "great" game of hunting will ensure an exciting and complex hunt that evening.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Most Dangerous Game," why is Zaroff glad that it is Rainsford who has come to the island?

Zaroff is gald that it is Rainsford, because Rainsford is a worthy adversary-- someone who will be difficult to find, and kill. As it turns out, he's so worthy that he defeats Zaroff.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Why does Rainsford agree to become "the hunted" in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

When Sanger Rainsford wanders to his elegant chateau's door, General Zaroff is delighted as the "celebrated hunter" introduces himself because now he will have someone to challenge him in hunting skills.

As they dine in the evening of the first day that Rainsford arrives on Shipwreck Island, the bizarre Russian tells Rainsford that he reached a point of satiety with hunting big game; therefore, he now hunts "more dangerous game" because he lives for danger. This "new sensation" is the hunt for another human being because he enjoys "the problems of the chase."

After hearing this remark by Zaroff, Rainsford is appalled, and tells his host that he cannot condone "cold-blooded murder" as a mere hunt. However, Zaroff insists that life is for the strong, and the weak of the world are placed on the earth for the pleasure of the strong.

Ironically, Zaroff's words echo Rainsford's abrupt dismissal of concern for the hunted in his discussion with Whitney when he has said, "Who cares how a jaguar feels." Furthermore, during the days that follow, Rainsford, who previously has been unconcerned for beasts at bay, now finds himself in this position to the delight of the deranged General Zaroff who hunts him.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Rainsford end up on the island in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

At the beginning of the short story, Rainsford is sitting on the top deck of the yacht alongside Whitney as the two hunters sail to the Amazon, where they plan to hunt jaguars. After Whitney goes to bed below deck, Rainsford stays awake and smokes his pipe on the top deck. Suddenly, Rainsford hears the sound of gunshots coming from the direction of the nearby island. Rainsford immediately springs from his seat and stands on the rail looking out into the darkness. While Rainsford is balancing on the rail, his pipe accidentally hits a rope and is knocked out of his mouth. Rainford then reaches for his pipe, loses his balance, and falls into the dark Caribbean Sea.

After falling into the water, Rainsford yells at the top of his lungs for someone to come to his aid but the yacht continues to sail away. He then remembers that the sound of the gunshots came from the right and begins to swim in that direction. After a "seemingly endless time," Rainsford reaches the rocky, jagged coast of the island and climbs the massive boulders onto dry land, where he immediately collapses at the edge of the dense jungle.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Rainsford end up on the island in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

Rainsford ends up on the island, the notorious Ship-Trap Island, completely by accident. He is initially on a yacht bound for Rio de Janeiro. The yacht passes by Ship-Trap Island. The crew are highly nervous; they can almost sense the evil emanating from the mysterious island. However, Rainsford is suitably intrigued. As a big-game hunter, he has a taste for danger.

It is night, and Rainsford is standing on the afterdeck smoking a pipe. Suddenly, the sound of gunshots cut through the darkness; they are coming from the vicinity of Ship-Trap Island. Rainsford wants to find out what is happening, so he hoists himself onto the yacht's guard rail to see if he can get a better look. As he does so, he drops his pipe, tries to make a grab for it, and then promptly falls into the water. Despite repeated cries for help, the yacht continues on its voyage without him. Rainsford has no choice but to swim to Ship-Trap Island and bed down for the night. Rainsford has just experienced the start of the most thrilling adventure of his life.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Rainsford come to ship-trap island?

Rainsford is on his way to Rio to hunt jaguars in the Amazon. Whitney, one of the crew, and Rainsford decide to have a discussion on hunting. Whitney explains that they are approaching "Ship-Trap Island" and that sailors are very afraid and feel a cold chill run through their veins when in its midst.   Whitney decides to turn in for the night and Rainsford decides to stay up and smoke another pipe.  

Rainsford hears the sound of a gunshot 3 times. Springing onto the rail of the boat, he tries to see if he can see anything.  As he balances himself a rope knocks his pipe out of his mouth and, leaning to reach it, he bends over too far and falls in the water.

It becomes a matter of life and death and he has to keep a straight head if he is to survive.  He hears a cry of someone or something, but at least it gave him a direction to go.  After swimming a great distance, he finally hears the familiar sound of waves rushing and crashing on the rocks. 

With the small amount of energy he had left, he pulled himself onto the rocks and collapsed.  Upon waking in the afternoon, he wandered along the shore trying to find some sign of life, but all he found was what seemed to be the blood of the wounded cry he had heard from the distance.  He kept going knowing that this was evidence of some type of life and he came upon General  Zaroff's chateau.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Rainsford come to ship-trap island?

Rainsford is on a yacht which is sailing the Caribbean Sea while he hunts and he hears tell of this island. While he is on an eerily calm sea one night and the sailors on his yacht are nervous because they know they are close they become ensnared by the island (which is really General Zaroff's trap to get ships wrecked so he has humans to hunt). Rainsford manages to stay afloat and washes up on the shores of Ship Trap Island. He immediately gets into hunter mode when he hears gun shots and he is relieved to know that there are other  on the island. He is not the least bit frightened when he comes upon the house of General Zaroff because he has no idea that soon he will become the hunted.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Rainsford come to ship-trap island?

Rainsford is on a yacht that is cruising the Caribbean and accidentally falls overboard one night. No one can hear him above the engine, so all he can do is swim ashore to the island. This is when Rainsford hears the cries of something, but he isn't sure what it is. He finds his way to Zaroff's house after he sleeps on the beach.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How does Rainsford arrive at the mysterious island in "The Most Dangerous Game"?

There is an air of mystery about a nearby island as Rainsford's yacht sails past it in "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell. The captain of the vessel, Whitney, explains that this island is referred to by sailors as Ship-Trap Island and, though they are naturally a suspicious bunch, even the sailors are afraid of it.

Rainsford does not at first buy into the mystique of the island shrouded in darkness, but soon even he feels something. Whitney says:

"This place has an evil name among seafaring men, sir." Then he said to me, very gravely, "Don't you feel anything?"--as if the air about us was actually poisonous. Now, you mustn't laugh when I tell you this--I did feel something like a sudden chill.

Before he goes to bed for the night, Rainsford relaxes and smokes his pipe in a deck chair until he hears a sharp crack. He is a hunter and he knows the sound well; it is the sound of a gunshot. Rainsford immediately goes to the railing of the ship and peers out into the darkness of the island. He stands on the rail in an attempt to get a better view of things, but his pipe hits a rope and falls out into the water. In an attempt to catch his pipe, Rainsford reaches over too far and finds himself in the "blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea."

Of course the first thing he tries is to get back to the yacht, but it is moving too quickly. Now he really has no choice but to swim toward Ship-Trap Island. It is an exhausting swim and he does not think he will make it to shore when he gets closer to the island and is faced with jagged rocks. Eventually he is able to reach land.

With his remaining strength he dragged himself from the swirling waters. Jagged crags appeared to jut up into the opaqueness; he forced himself upward, hand over hand. Gasping, his hands raw, he reached a flat place at the top.

This was a harrowing swim, but it will soon seem quite harmless compared to what he must face. This all happens because he was trying to retrieve his pipe when it was knocked out of his mouth by a rope.

Consider the excellent eNotes sites linked below for more insights and analysis about this famous short story.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In "The Most Dangerous Game," what is Rainsford's hunting experience?

Rainsford is described as a very experienced big-game hunter. He has traveled the world and hunted most of the big-game prey allowed by legal restrictions (the story was written in 1924, when hunting was a more accepted sport). He has also written a bestselling book on his experiences and his knowledge of hunting, which the antagonist, General Zaroff, has read.

"I'll give him a trail to follow," muttered Rainsford, and he struck off from the rude path he had been following into the trackless wilderness. He executed a series of intricate loops; he doubled on his trail again and again, recalling all the lore of the fox hunt, and all the dodges of the fox.
(Connell, "The Most Dangerous Game," fiction.eserver.org)

Rainsford is in this respect the opposite of Zaroff; his hunting experience has not left him bored with animals, but instead respectful of their instincts and drive to survive. His knowledge of hunting allows him to put up a better fight against Zaroff than other people, but Zaroff still manages to track him down and lets him go to prelong the hunt. Rainsford also understands the mind of a "Beast at bay," and flings himself in to the ocean instead of facing Zaroff and his dogs.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on