In a game of survival, two hunters are facing off against each other. But not in the way you think! One great hunter will hunt another, leaving only the victor alive. Our very own Sanger Rainsford is up against the ruthless and Russian General Zaroff. This historic match all started just because Rainsford was unlucky enough to fall in the Carribean, and land into Ship-Wrecked Island! Rainsford and Zaroff are the two best hunters in the world, so when put against each other, who will win? Rainsford, renowned for his books and impressive quarry, will go against skilled and overconfident Zaroff. If Rainsford can evade the General for three entire days, he is allowed his freedom. If not, well let’s say it won’t be pretty. Who do you think has a higher chance of winning? You’ll have to keep watching to see who has the higher chance to win in the categories of their abilities, advantages, and attitudes!
The first thing we’re going to be talking about is their experience and ability! During their dinner, Zaroff tells Rainford that he’s been hunting since he was a child. He tells him, “I killed my first bear when I was 10.” (Connell 33) and “When I was only five years old he gave me a little gun, specially made in Moscow for me, to shoot sparrows with.” (Connell 33). Not a very modest guy, is he? Yet, this is much more experience than Rainsford has had. Even though he was a “celebrated hunter” (Connell 33), Zaroff being able to kill a bear at so young of an age is quite impressive and horrifying. Rainsford, although a great hunter, has not quite yet proven himself. We know he’s written a book, “I’ve read your [Rainsford’s] book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet..” (Connell 31). But we won’t see him put his actions to use until later.
The second thing we need to talk about is the advantages each has. Zaroff, with his knowledge of the land, can navigate where his quarry is most likely to go when he hunts them. We know because when Zaroff advises Rainsford before the game by saying, “I suggest, too, that you avoid the big swamp in the southeast corner of the island.” (Connell 39). But Rainsford is left clueless being new and all. Rainsford does have the advantage of not leaving any tracks though, “I suggest you wear moccasins, they leave a poorer trail.” (Connell 39). But since Zaroff gave him this advice, it may be a trap since he knows how to identify them. Other advantages Zaroff has is his luxuries! The rules of the game states, “I am to follow, armed only with a pistol of the smallest caliber and range.” (Connell 36) This may seem like a small advantage, but Rainsford is only equipped with a hunting knife, “...a leather sheath containing a long-bladed hunting knife;” (Connell 36), so the advantage is obvious there. The final thing is the ability to win. Zaroff has not yet lost a single hunt in his entire life, according to himself! During their first meet, he tells Rainsford, “It had become too easy. I always got my quarry. Always. There is no greater bore than perfection.' (Connell 34). Rainsford, however, believes that there are different levels of danger. He tells Zaroff, “I’ve always thought,” said Rainsford, “that the Cape buffalo is the most dangerous of all big game.” Zaroff has never lost to his quarry, even the human ones with logic. He tells Rainsford, 'To date, I have not lost.” (Connell 36). Hunting is easy for Zaroff it seems, I think maybe too easy?
The final thing I want to talk about is hunting attitudes. While these men's hunting attitudes are somewhat similar there is one key difference, Zaroff is merciless. Both believe that the status of the world is split between hunters and hunted, as is stated in the very beginning and when Rainsford is speaking, “The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees.” (Connell ). It seems that Zaroff has the same idea saying, “Me He made a hunter.” (Connell 33). Zaroff is taking it a step further though. He has no mercy for anyone, not even humans! He doesn’t even let them fall into his grasps by chance! He tells Rainsford, “But where do you get them?’...They indicate a channel,' he said, 'where there's none; giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws.” (Connell 36). And he has a prison for his victims! “We'll visit my training school,' smiled the general. 'It's in the cellar. I have about a dozen pupils down there now.” (Connell 36). These both describe his disregard for whether they are human or not. Rainsford is then put at a disadvantage, only believing animals are the game when Zaroff has a more sadistic way of looking at things.
Now let’s have a quick recap, shall we? With better advantages in his own game, a more ruthless attitude when it comes to winning, and blatant hunting ability, I believe Zaroff is going to have a better chance. Rainsford has morals, something that won’t help him here, while Zaroff has a game to win. Rainsford could never kill a man in cold blood, while his competitor does it for pure entertainment! There is no question on who is crazy enough to win.
All things considered, Zaroff has the edge in this competition. He has a pistol, dogs, a life's worth of hunting experience, and a flawless career. Based on these things, we all expect Zaroff to have the upper hand and Rainsford to be in the ground before we yell time. But we can never know until it happens!