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There is a thin theme in the beginning of the story. Whitney questions Raisford if the animal feels something besides instinctual fear when hunted. Rainsford retorts, "Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"
Rainsford's view on hunting differs from Zaroff in that he (Rainsford) draws a line at hunting people. Rainsford views this as murder while Zaroff views this as good sport. To Zaroff, humans are simply clever mammals.