illustration of a wolf standing in the forest looking toward a fallen tree that has pinned a man underneath

The Interlopers

by Saki
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How does the story "The Interlopers" by Saki have suspense in it?

The suspense in "The Interlopers" is established in the beginning through the story's dark, stormy setting, which confuses and disorients Ulrich. When Ulrich and Georg finally meet, there's an extended tense silence, suspenseful because the audience does not know who will make the first move. At the end of the story, the tow see dark figures moving toward them, and the ambiguity of these figures' identity creates further suspense.

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Saki creates suspense in the opening paragraph of the story by depicting Ulrich von Gradwitz "watching and listening" for his enemy as he patrols the dark forest. Saki's introduction establishes an unsettling, hostile atmosphere , and the audience anticipates impending violence between the two enemies, which increases the tension of...

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Saki creates suspense in the opening paragraph of the story by depicting Ulrich von Gradwitz "watching and listening" for his enemy as he patrols the dark forest. Saki's introduction establishes an unsettling, hostile atmosphere, and the audience anticipates impending violence between the two enemies, which increases the tension of the story. Saki also utilizes the stormy weather and treacherous landscape to contribute to the story's disquieting mood. The confusion of the storm and the threatening wilderness increases suspense as Ulrich searches for Georg Znaeym.

Saki once again creates suspense when Ulrich comes face-to-face with his enemy. As Ulrich stares at Georg, the audience anticipates a violent conflict, and the tension of the situation is palpable. The audience can imagine the feelings both characters experience standing across from one another with hatred in their hearts. Saki increases the suspense of their interaction by describing the extended moment of silence between the adversaries. Saki writes,

"The two enemies stood glaring at one another for a long silent moment. Each had a rifle in his hand, each had hate in his heart and murder uppermost in his mind. The chance had come to give full play to the passions of a lifetime" (2).

Suddenly, a massive beech tree is struck by lightning, and a branch falls on both men, trapping them beneath it. Saki then creates tension while Ulrich and Georg are trapped beneath the heavy branch. When Ulrich offers Georg his flask of wine, the reader experiences suspense and anticipate Georg's reaction. The audience hopes for Georg to accept Ulrich's offer, which he eventually does and the two enemies proceed to put their differences aside. Saki also ends the story on a suspenseful note when Ulrich and Georg see ambiguous figures moving in their direction. The audience experiences suspense as they wonder about the nature of the mysterious figures. Initially, Ulrich and Georg are unable to identify the figures, which contributes to the tension and suspense of the moment. Ironically, the figures turn out to be menacing wolves, which threaten Ulrich and Georg's lives.

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The opening paragraph of the story establishes a suspenseful premise, as we are told that the protagonist, Ulrich von Gradwitz, is "patroll[ing] the dark forest" with a rifle "in quest of a human enemy." Immediately, therefore, the reader will want to find out if Ulrich succeeds in his hunt, and the reader will also want to find out why Ulrich wants to kill a fellow human.

A little later in the story, Ulrich von Gradiwitz and the man he is hunting, Georg Znaeym, both lie helpless and immobilized beneath a fallen tree. The suspense of the story then shifts to the question of whose men will find them first. If they are discovered first by the friends of one man, then the other will likely pay with his life. However, the longer the two men remain trapped beneath the fallen tree, the more the hatred between them seems to subside. After a while, they agree to a reconciliation and begin to imagine "the wonderful changes" that their reconciliation will bring about.

In the final part of the story, Georg and Ulrich hear and dimly see "figures coming through the wood," toward the spot where they both lie trapped. At this point in the story the reader begins to wonder which of the two men these figures might be loyal to and whether they will have a chance to learn of the reconciliation before they try to kill the other man.

At the end of the story, however, we learn that these figures are not men at all but are rather wolves. The story concludes with this realization, and the only suspense that remains concerns the fate of the two men once the wolves happen upon them. We suspect, of course, that the wolves will kill both men, but the story concludes before we can know for sure.

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"The Interlopers" begins with suspense as "a man stood ... watching and listening," waiting for a "beast" to come within range of his rifle. The middle has suspense as Ulrich and Georg come "face to face." The crisis, leading to the story-end climax, has suspense as both men wait to see who it is who is coming to their aid.

Suspense weaves throughout the story because of Saki's deft structural development. Suspense is relieved--only to be heightened again--when the narrator describes the backstory centering around the court case over the illegally possessed land and again when Ulrich and Georg start talking after Ulrich offers Georg some wine from his flask (at first Georg retorts with hateful remarks but then he responds with talk from his heart: "if we choose to make peace ... [y]ou would come and keep the Sylvester night beneath my roof").

Saki heightens the suspense after this reconciliation between the two enemies by giving them and us the hope of a speedy and timely rescue. They and we believe they will live long lives of friendship and peace, feasting together at "Sylvester night" and at "some high day" (respectively, a Catholic Saint's Day coinciding with New Year's Eve on the Gregorian Calendar and any number of religious holy days for "Karpathians"). They call out together to what they believe to be one or the other set of their men approaching them, searching for the missing leaders: "They hear us! They've stopped. Now they see us." Suspense intensifies through the crisis to the climax as--after successfully raising their "voices in a prolonged hunting call"--Georg asks "How many are there? ... Are they your men? ... Are they your men?" His answer is Ulrich's "unstrung" hideously fearful "No."

     "They hear us! They've stopped. Now they see us. They're running down the hill towards us," cried Ulrich.
     "How many of them are there?" asked Georg.
     "I can't see distinctly," said Ulrich; "nine or ten,"
     "Then they are yours," said Georg; "I had only seven out with me."
     "They are making all the speed they can, brave lads," said Ulrich gladly.
     "Are they your men?" asked Georg. "Are they your men?" he repeated impatiently as Ulrich did not answer.
     "No," said Ulrich with a laugh, the idiotic chattering laugh of a man unstrung with hideous fear.

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