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A world-renowned big-game hunter and the story’s protagonist. Intelligent, experienced, and level-headed, Rainsford uses his wits and physical prowess to outwit General Zaroff. His understanding of civilization and the relationship between hunter and prey is radically transformed during his harrowing days on the island. Hiding from Zaroff, he recalls his days fighting in the trenches of World War I, where he witnessed unimaginable violence. At the same time, the three-day chase reverses his life of privilege and ease, forcing him to sacrifice comfort and luxury to survive.
Read an in-depth analysis of Sanger Rainsford
A Russian Cossack and expatriate who lives on Ship-Trap Island and enjoys hunting men. General Zaroff’s high cheekbones, sharply defined nose, and pointed military mustache accentuate his mysteriousness and savagery. With a cultivated voice and deliberate, slightly accented way of speaking, his regal bearing and rarefied aristocratic air belie his dementia and sadism. He hunts human beings to experience the most satisfying thrill.
Read an in-depth analysis of General Zaroff
Rainsford’s friend and traveling companion. On the yacht, Whitney suggests to Rainsford that hunted animals feel fear. Highly suggestible, Whitney feels anxious as they sail near the mysterious Ship-Trap Island. He argues that evil emanates in waves like light and sound.
A Cossack and Zaroff’s mute assistant. A man of formidable physical stature, Ivan has a waist-length black beard and wears a black uniform. All of Zaroff’s captives prefer to flee from Zaroff as prey rather than suffer torture and certain death at Ivan’s hands.