In the short story "The Interlopers" by Saki , the author provides context concerning the location, the situation, the characters, and the background of their relationship, especially as it affects their motivations for hunting each other. In literature, context is the setting, environment, circumstances, and background in which...
In the short story "The Interlopers" by Saki, the author provides context concerning the location, the situation, the characters, and the background of their relationship, especially as it affects their motivations for hunting each other. In literature, context is the setting, environment, circumstances, and background in which a story takes place. Context helps readers better understand the characters and the actions that the characters take.
The first sentence gives us the location. The story takes place "in a forest of mixed growth somewhere on the eastern spurs of the Karpathians." The Karpathians (whose modern spelling is Carpathians) is a range of mountains in Eastern Europe. The specific location is the "forest lands" owned by a man named Ulrich von Gradwitz. They are "of wide extent and well stocked with game." The time it takes place is "one winter night." These are the first clues about the story's context.
Readers then learn the situation as it concerns the main characters, Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym. The conflict in the story is between these two men, who are the only ones present as the story progresses. Their families have been quarreling over the land for generations. At present, during the story, the courts have awarded the land to Ulrich von Gradwitz. However, Georg Znaeym does not accept this judgment, and so he continually trespasses on the land and poaches game from it. Besides this ancestral feud, the men have a personal dislike of each other. "As boys they had thirsted for one another's blood," and this animosity has carried on into the present. This past and present hatred is another aspect of context that the author provides so that their reconciliation at the end will be more surprising and touching.
We see, then, that what came before in the story was this generations-long feud between the von Gradwitz and Znaeym families, which culminates in the two men stalking each other in the cold dark forest on a winter night. Ultimately, a massive section of a tree falls upon the men, and as they lie trapped beneath it, they talk together, reconcile, and decide to become friends. However, when they shout for help, their men do not come. Instead, we receive a dreadful and horrifying clue as to what happens after the end of the story. They realize that they are not being rescued by their men but attacked by a pack of wolves. The context indicates that in the future, after the story ends, the men will be killed by the wolves.