What is the exposition of "The Interlopers"?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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"The Interlopers" by H.H. Munro (whose pseudonym is Saki) is a relatively short, short story.  The exposition is essentially the first three paragraphs of the selection, and it tells everything we need to know for the rest of the piece.  The first paragraph sets the mood for the story.  We know the incident takes place in the Carpathian woods, we know at least one of the characters, we know there is going to be hunting involved, and we know the prey:

Ulrich von Gradwitz patrolled the dark forest in quest of a human enemy.

Paragraph two further sets the tone of mystery and suspense by describing two things:  a long-standing feud and an unusually stormy night.  The feud between these two families, and Georg and Ulrich specifically, has been bitter and intense.  The issue is land, something traditionally valued above most other things; so we're not surprised that they're willing to fight and kill to control it.  The storm is such that even the nocturnal animals, such as the roebuck, are running for shelter.  Clearly this is the setting for a showdown in the woods.

The third paragraph begins with the first real action of the story:

He [Ulrich] strayed away by himself from the watchers whom he had placed in ambush on the crest of the hill....

We know there is likely to be a confrontation, and in this paragraph the suspense builds.  The last line of the paragraph is actually the inciting action:

And as he stepped round the trunk of a huge beech he came face to face with the man he sought.

It doesn't take a long exposition for Munro to create a scene, a mood, and an action which prepare us--at least in part--for what's ahead in the story.

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