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 exciting and challenging game. He eventually made his way to the Amazon, hoping that its fabled jaguars would provide him with enough sport to retain his interest, but they did not. With his wits and a high-powered rifle, Zaroff discovered that no animal is much of a challenge because an animal has instinct but no reason. Soon struck with inspiration, Zaroff believed he found a new animal to hunt, and it is for this reason that he has built his castle on a deserted island. Rainsford is intrigued as to the nature of this new prey, since no animal can match a man in intelligence. Zaroff disagrees, stating that there is one who can. Rainsford realizes that he is talking about hunting another human being and is horrified by the suggestion. Zaroff ridicules Rainsford, whom he thinks educated and sophisticated enough to have long abandoned any belief in the intrinsic value of a human life. Rainsford, however, states categorically that hunting a human is murder.
Essential Passage 3
General Zaroff did not appear until luncheon. He was dressed faultlessly in the tweeds of a country squire. He was solicitous about the state of Rainsford’s health.
“As for me,” sighed the general, “I do not feel so well. I am worried, Mr. Rainsford. Last night I detected traces of my old complaint.”
To Rainsford’s questioning glance the general said, “Ennui. Boredom.”
Then taking a second helping of crepes Suzette, the general explained: “The hunting was not good last night. The fellow lost his...
(The entire section is 1,173 words.)