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There is a definite sense in which situational irony operates in this excellent story, and the mood of course helps to convey the change in our expectations and then the way that our hopes for a happy ending are crushed in the final paragraph. Let us remind ourselves that the mood of the story at the beginning is one of intense, unyielding and bitter opposition and emnity between Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym, which is even echoed by the violence in nature itself. However, once they find themselves in a very compromising position, and they have made peace, the mood of the story changes as they anticipate the future ahead of them based on their newfound peace:
For a space both men were silent, turning over in their minds the wonderful changes that this dramatic reconciliation would bring about. In the cold, gloomy forest, with the wind tearing in fitful gusts through the naked branches and whistling round the tree trunks, they lay and waited for the help that would now bring release and succour to both parties.
We can see there is a dramatic shift in the mood to one of hope and reconciliation, as the two central characters make their peace and contemplate a brighter future. However, the final word that Ulrich says, which closes the story, brings us around full circle, as we realise that the figures that Ulrich can see are not the men that will save them, but wolves that will eat them savagely. Such a twist in the story plunges us back into a mood of despair and hopelessness.
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