"The Most Dangerous Game" is a popular read within middle and high school curricula due to the strength of the themes within the story. The first and foremost question that the story bears is that of justifiable murder. Rainsford justifies his hunting of animals because he believes that man is superior to animals because animals do not feel. To contradict, General Zaroff believes that men are superior because they are able to reason. Zaroff uses his reasoning to explain why men are the most interesting game to hunt; men can reason, and thus provide a challenge that no animal can contend with. The story simultaneously highlights through the experience of Rainsford, as he is hunted, the fears that animals must experience while being hunted.
Zaroff himself is a contradiction because his exquisite manners are juxtaposed with his heartless brutality in killing men. The idea of a man who is proper in all aspects, but still contains a desire to kill, is a suggestion by Connell that men possess murderous instincts that can only be subdued by the presence of society and law. Zaroff is only able to partake in his "hobby" because he does not live within a civilization.
The ending of the story bears questions about the true nature of Rainsford, who is implied to have killed Zaroff in order to secure his own safety. By killing Zaroff, he thus took part in the "game" that Zaroff wanted him to play.