Rainsford is nothing if not a survivor. Throughout all of “The Most Dangerous Game,” he just does not give up. When he falls off the yacht, he manages to get himself safely to the rocky shore. His success in getting to shore sets us up to expect him to face (and prevail over) even greater challenges: “doggedly he swam in that direction, swimming with slow, deliberate strokes, conserving his strength. For a seemingly endless time he fought the sea” (1.35). When faced with a master game-hunter, he uses all of the tricks up his sleeve—from the Malay mancatcher to the Burmese tiger pit. We see how committed he is to survival not only through the actions he takes—many of which don’t seem like “safe choices”—but also though the clues that Connell gives us, like describing Rainsford’s “determined effort.” This guy ain’t giving up.
A lot of elements go into making a good hunter: being clever and wily, the ability to improvise and take risks; but perseverance is Rainsford’s greatest strength.
Zaroff enjoys the hunt more than he enjoys the kill. If it were the other way around, he would have taken Rainsford out with that automatic pistol on the first day of the hunt.