How is the main conflict is resolved in "The Interlopers" by Saki?

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

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The primary source of the human conflict in "The Interlopers" by Saki is a three-generation feud between Georg Znaeym and Ulrich von Gradwitz over a "stupid strip of forest."

The feud might, perhaps, have died down or been compromised if the personal ill-will of the two men had not stood in the way; as boys they had thirsted for one another's blood, as men each prayed that misfortune might fall on the other....

On the night this story takes place, both of these men are in the forest with a group of men, and both of them would love nothing more than to kill the other one.

This is the conflict, and it is about to be resolved because they finally meet, face to face, in the forest.

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 truth is, of course, that it is usually easier to talk about killing someone than to actually do it, and both men hesitate. In that moment of hesitation, nature intervenes and blows a tree down on top of them, pinning them both to the ground.

As they are helpless to move but in close proximity, they do what we might expect: they hurl insults and threats at one another. Each man is hoping his hunting party arrives first so he can dispatch the other. Soon, however, the men lapse into silence and wait silently on this cold, stormy night. 

Soon Ulrich manages to reach his wine flask and generously offers Georg a warming drink. Along with the flask, Ulrich extends an offer of friendship. Georg ponders for a long time but finally accepts the proffered friendship. The feud has ended, and both men are amused thinking about the reaction of the townspeople when they begin to celebrate holidays together or appear in town as friends.

Of course there is just a bit more to the story, but the main conflict--a feud which caused enmity, hatred, and (almost) violence--is over when Ulrich offers friendship to his hitherto hated enemy and Georg accepts it.

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