Essential Quotes

Essential Quotes by Character: Sanger Rainsford

Essential Passage 1

...He was finding the general a most thoughtful and affable host, a true cosmopolite. But there was one small trait of the general’s that made Rainsford uncomfortable. Whenever he looked up from his plate he found the general studying him, appraising him narrowly.


Off the coast of Brazil, Sanger Rainsford (a hunter from America bound for the Amazon) falls off his yacht after hearing screams from a distant island. Finally reaching shore, he struggles through the dense forest to find a tall, gloomy castle built on a cliff above the bay. Knocking on the door, he is met by the largest man he has ever seen. This giant, named Ivan, leads Rainsford into the castle where he is introduced to the master, General Zaroff. Dressed tastefully, General Zaroff is not the kind of person Rainsford expected to find on a deserted island. Zaroff shows him to a richly furnished room where the American is given dry clothes. Rainsford then joins Zaroff in the dining room, which displays a rich variety of food and drink. As they visit, Rainsford is impressed with the sophistication of his host. However, he does not like the way that Zaroff is constantly and intently observing him: Rainsford feels as if he is being appraised for worthiness. That is the only aspect of his host Rainsford finds troubling.

Essential Passage 2

“Tonight,” said the general, “we will hunt—you and I.”

Rainsford shook his head. “No, general,” he said. “I will not hunt.”

The general shrugged his shoulders and delicately ate a hothouse grape. “As you wish, my friend,” he said. “The choice rests entirely with you. But may I not venture to suggest that you will find my idea of sport more diverting than Ivan’s?”

He nodded toward the corner to where the giant stood, scowling, his thick arms crossed on his hogshead of chest.

“You don’t mean—,” cried Rainsford.

“My dear fellow,” said the general, “have I not told you I always mean what I say about hunting? This is really an inspiration. I drink to a foeman worthy of my steel—at last.” The general raises his glass, but Rainsford sat staring at him.

“You’ll find this game worth playing,” the general said enthusiastically. “Your brain against mine. Your woodcraft against mine. Your strength and stamina against mine. Outdoor chess! And the stake is not without value, eh?”


General Zaroff explains to Rainsford his love for the hunt. Having chased game all over the world, Zaroff had come to South America in hopes of finding sport hunting the jaguar. Alas, it was not as challenging as he had hoped, and he became bored. He discovered that the most exciting challenge is hunting “the most dangerous game”—human beings. From local natives to stranded individuals, Zaroff has given each “prey” three days in which to survive. When Rainsford expresses his horror, asking whether the prey has any choice, Zaroff explains that they may choose not to participate, at which point they are turned...

(The entire section is 1341 words.)

Essential Quotes by Theme: Inhumanity

Essential Passage 1

“…Great sport, hunting.”

“The best sport in the world,” agreed Rainsford.

“For the hunter,” amended Whitney. “Not for the jaguar.”

“Don’t talk rot, Whitney,” said Rainsford. “You’re a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?”

“Perhaps the jaguar does,” observed Whitney.

“Bah! They’ve no understanding.”

“Even so, I rather think they understand one thing—fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death.”

“Nonsense,” laughed Rainsford. “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.”


Sanger Rainsford—a big-game hunter—and his companion Whitney are taking a yacht to South America to hunt along the Amazon. They pass what looks like a deserted island that the maps label “Ship-Trap Island.” Superstitious sailors avoid the island, afraid of some evil that is said to haunt it. Whitney and Rainsford discuss the joy of hunting. Rainsford believes it is the best sport in the world, though Whitney believes that is true only for the hunter: the hunted might not find it so enjoyable. Rainsford dismiss this comment as “philosophy,” stating that no one cares how a jaguar feels. Whitney, however, cannot give up the argument that the hunted do indeed have some measure of feeling about their status as prey, even if it is only the feeling of fear. Rainsford says that there are only two classes of beings in this world—the hunted and the “huntees.” He and Whitney are in the lucky position of being the hunters rather than the hunted.

Essential Passage 2

“I can’t believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke.”

“Why should I not be serious? I am speaking of hunting.”

“Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder.”

The general laughed with entire good nature. He regarded Raisnford quizzically. “I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life. Surely your experiences in the war—“

“Did not make me condone cold-blooded murder,” finished Rainsford stiffly.


Rainsford, finding himself under the hospitality of General Zaroff, a Cossack from Russia, at first is intrigued to meet someone who also enjoys big-game hunting. After having fled Russia following the Russian Revolution, Zaroff traveled the world looking for more...

(The entire section is 1173 words.)