The Interlopers Why Are The Von Gradwitz And Znaeym Families Fighting

What is the cause of the feud between the families of Ulrich von Gladwitz and George Znaeym?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The feud is caused by an old land dispute between the Gradwitz and Znaeym families.

As the other educator pointed out, the feud is inherited by the succeeding generations of both families. The land in dispute is only a "narrow strip of precipitous woodland" on the outskirts of the Gradwitz property. It is not particularly "remarkable for the game it harbored or the shooting it afforded." However, the feud continues because of entrenched feelings of ill will between both families.

While Ulrich believes that the disputed land belongs to his family, Georg is of the opinion that his family's claims have been unjustly ignored. In Ulrich's eyes, the court rightly sided with his family against the machinations of "petty landowners." However, Georg rejects Ulrich's perspective, and this is why he continues to encroach on Gradwitz land. Each makes it his life duty to kill the other. The feud is sustained by strong emotions and petty jealousies. 

Every day, Ulrich and his team of men search the woods for "prowling thieves." Despite his conscientious reconnaissance work, Ulrich only comes upon Georg once: during a tempestuous, stormy night. The chance meeting is almost surreal; neither man can believe the object of his consuming hatred finally stands before him. Interestingly, neither man immediately acts upon his murderous intentions. It is impossible to ignore the "code of a restraining civilization" even in the moment of great provocation. 

This hesitation seals the fate of both men. An enormous tree crashes, pinning Ulrich and Georg under its formidable branches. In the end, both men discover that an inherited feud is meaningless in the face of a possibly violent death.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like many others, the feud between Ulrich von Gladwitz and Georg Znaeym has been inherited from ancestors, and the lines of demarcation are so ambiguous that there is no resolution to this generations' argument over a tract of land. Here is how the narrator describes this feud as Gradwitz patrols the dark forest:

A famous law suit, in the days of his grandfather, had wrested it from the illegal possession of a neighbouring family of petty landowners; the dispossessed party had never acquiesced in the judgment of the Courts, and a long series of poaching affrays and similar scandals had embittered the relationships between the families for three generations.

In other words, Gradwitz's grandfather had gone to court to "wrest" this land away from Znaeym's grandfather; however, the Znaeyms did not acknowledge the ruling of the court. So, now each family insists that the land is theirs, and they continue to hunt upon it. Resentment between the two parties waxes and the hatred becomes personal between Gradwitz and Znaeym so that the feud is aggrandized. This is why Gradwitz hopes one night that he can singularly come upon his enemy and kill him. But, just as comes around a tree, he comes vis-à-vis with Znaeym. Fatefully, however, in that "long silent moment" in which two civilized men cannot just shoot down someone down, a great tree splits in the storm and branches crash upon them. And, while they are thus pinioned beneath the tree and wait for their men to rescue them, it is only then that they put this feud into true perspective. 

rainsc24 | Student

One family stole some of the other families land.

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The Interlopers

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