The Most Dangerous Game

Why did Zaroff choose to hunt on the island?


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tells Rainsford that he believes that he was made to hunt, much like other men are called to their respective vocations. Zaroff’s father was very wealthy, allowing him financial freedom after the fall of the Czar in Russia. Unlike many of his Cossack compatriots, Zaroff was not forced into menial labor abroad. He was able to secure his money through investments, allowing him the opportunity to pursue his biggest passion—hunting. As Zaroff explains, his entire life has been one long hunt.

After Zaroff’s departure from Russia, he moved around in search of thrilling prey. Eventually, he was bored by the animals that were available for hunt in various parts of the world. Nothing could satisfy his desire for a stimulating hunt. As he had no desire to live with such dissatisfaction, Zaroff decided to do something. Zaroff asks Rainsford if he can guess why hunting had ceased to be stimulating for him. Zaroff brags that no animal was smart enough for him—he had become completely bored with the sport.

As he continues to explicate, Rainsford leans across the table, eager to hear the solution that the general had come up with. Zaroff reveals that he had to invent a new animal to hunt. Rainsford finds this difficult to believe. Zaroff assures him that he is telling the truth. Zaroff pushes the conversation along by asking Rainsford what the three most important qualities of an ideal prey. He continues on by saying that the animal must have courage, cunning, and the ability to reason. Rainsford is confused because, as he tells Zaroff, no animal can reason. Zaroff points out that there is in fact one animal that can reason.

Rainsford finally grasps the meaning behind Zaroff’s cryptic statements: Zaroff hunts men.