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During a sleepless, night Rainsford went to smoke a pipe when he suddenly heard gun fire in the distance. As he climbs upon the rail of the yacht to peruse through the darkness for the origin of the shots, he fell into the blood-warm water of the Caribbean. After the yacht had continued into the distance, Rainsford began his swim toward the origin of the gun shots that he had previously heard.
The next day, on the island, he came upon lights that appeared to be a village, but turned out to be one enormous building. When he knocked on the door a monster of a man, named Ivan, bombarded Rainsford with a pistol. Rainsford began introducing himself, but as he did, General Zaroff, who was listening in the background recognized him as a famous hunter and invited him in for dinner. At dinner the General tells Rainsford, "God makes some men poets. Some He makes kings, and some beggars. Me He made a hunter." As the dinner progresses the general tells about his different hunts and how after a while he grew more and more tiresome of them. "I wanted the ideal animal to hunt," explained the general. Rainsford asked, "What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?" "It must have courage, cunning, and above all, it must be able to reason." The general is referring to a human! The general sees murder as just a game.
The general forces Rainsford to play his twisted game. Immediately Rainsford takes off trying to leave a bewildering trail as he goes. When nightfall comes, he shimmies up a tree for camouflage but the general tracks him down, toys with him, and then leaves. After this, Rainsford builds a Malay man-catcher which falls onto the shoulder of the general and cuts him. Rainsford again begins to run and finds himself stuck in quicksand. After he pulls himself out, he digs a man sized pit and places sharpened sticks at the bottom in order to stab whoever tumbles into it.
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As Rainsford continues on his flee from the general, he sets yet another trap. He ties the knife to a springy tree so it will strike whoever triggers it. As Ivan, the dogs, and the general come hastily down the trail, the knife finds its mark on Ivan's chest. The final dual happens after Rainsford jumps from a cliff into the water and climbs up to the fortress and into the generals' room. The two duel in the generals' quarters. The next morning, Rainsford decided that he never slept in a better bed.