The Most Dangerous Game

by

Richard Connell

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Sanger Rainsford Character Analysis

Sanger Rainsford is a celebrated hunter from New York City with a passion for hunting big game and a “predator versus prey” worldview. He is traveling on a yacht with his friend Whitney to hunt jaguars in the Amazon, when he falls overboard into the sea just off the coast of Ship-Trap Island. After he swims ashore, he comes across General Zaroff’s enormous mansion on the island and soon learns that he has entered the trap of a sadistic serial killer. Although both men enjoy hunting animals, Rainsford draws a hard line at hunting humans. Given the choice between being Zaroff’s latest prey or Ivan’s torture victim, Rainsford takes to the jungle and attempts to outwit Zaroff for the three-day contest. While running from Zaroff, Rainsford realizes how hunted animals must feel and experiences true terror for the first time in his life—though, instead of inspiring thoughts about the sanctity of all life, his terror motivates him to respond with violence. Although he resisted the game at first, when forced to fight for his survival, Rainsford eventually kills both Ivan and Zaroff, winning “the most dangerous game” and crossing the ethical line he drew at the beginning of the story. Rainsford’s transformation from proud hunter to terrified prey and then to cold-blooded murderer reveals that mankind is not so different from animals, and without the social contracts of a community, men will resort to brutal violence.
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Sanger Rainsford Character Timeline in The Most Dangerous Game

The timeline below shows where the character Sanger Rainsford appears in The Most Dangerous Game. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Most Dangerous Game
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Sanger Rainsford and his friend Whitney are sailing on a yacht heading to the Amazon to hunt... (full context)
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Between comments about the island, Rainsford and Whitney (who are both hunters) argue about whether animals experience thoughts and feelings. Rainsford... (full context)
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Rainsford stays on deck for a late-night smoke when he hears three gunshots in the distance.... (full context)
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Once on shore and rested, Rainsford investigates the jungle’s edge and finds blood-stained weeds and signs of a hunter, which, he... (full context)
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Rainsford knocks on the front door, and a giant man opens it, pointing a gun at... (full context)
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Zaroff recognizes Rainsford’s name and welcomes the celebrated hunter into his home with clothing, lodging, and fine dining.... (full context)
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After Rainsford presses him, Zaroff explains that he prefers to hunt humans because unlike animals, humans possess... (full context)
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Shocked, Rainsford insists that Zaroff is committing murder, and refuses his invitation to participate in the manhunt.... (full context)
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Zaroff demonstrates for Rainsford how he stocks the island with fresh human prey by tricking ships to sail into... (full context)
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Rainsford asks what happens if the men refuse to be hunted, and Zaroff explains that the... (full context)
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Zaroff then offers to show Rainsford his new collection of heads, but Rainsford declines and retires to his room for the... (full context)
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The next day, Zaroff and Rainsford meet again for lunch, and Zaroff complains that last night’s hunt was boring because the... (full context)
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 When Rainsford asks what happens if he wins, Zaroff assures him that he can leave the island,... (full context)
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Zaroff jumps into preparations for the hunt, even giving Rainsford tips about what shoes to wear and dangerous places on the island to avoid. He... (full context)
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Rainsford makes his way through the jungle, doubling over his trail as a fox would, until... (full context)
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Zaroff finds Rainsford’s hiding spot almost at once. He never looks right at him but casually strolls just... (full context)
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Running further into the jungle, Rainsford stops to craft a trap out of a dead tree. He succeeds in injuring Zaroff,... (full context)
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Plodding on through the night, Rainsford accidently steps into quicksand but pulls himself free. The soft ground inspires him and makes... (full context)
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Waiting for Zaroff to fall into his trap, Rainsford momentarily feels victorious until he sees that the trap claimed only a hunting dog. Zaroff... (full context)
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At daybreak, Rainsford wakes to the sound of baying dogs and sees Zaroff and Ivan drawing nearer. Considering... (full context)
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Reaching the edge of the jungle, Rainsford sees the mansion across the cove. Faced with the choice of risking the rocky waters... (full context)
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Thinking Rainsford jumped to this death, Zaroff shrugs, takes a swig from his flask, enjoys a cigarette,... (full context)
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While eating dinner that evening, Zaroff feels annoyed about having to replace Ivan and that Rainsford didn’t stick around to fight or be killed. He enjoys the material comforts of his... (full context)
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Once locked into his room, Zaroff turns to see Rainsford standing next to his bed. Demanding to know how he got there, Rainsford says he... (full context)