"The Interlopers" How does the natural setting, particularly the fallen tree, affect Ulrich and Georg?

In "The Interlopers," how does the natural setting, particularly the fallen tree, affect Ulrich and Georg?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting plays a key role in this story. The feud between the two families is over a narrow piece of land. So, part of the setting itself is the subject of the feud. This is a piece of land that Georg's and Ulrich's families have fought over for generations.

It is cold (winter) and the land is located in the Carpathian Mountains. This harsh outdoor setting suggests that nature is unforgiving and/or indifferent to man/men and their concerns. This is a symbolic foreshadowing because the conflict will shift from "man vs. man" to "men vs. nature." 

When lightning strikes and the tree falls, pinning the men, it would seem that nature has fortuitously intervened and prevented one man from killing the other. However, this is just a random act of nature. There is no suggestion that this was divine intervention nor is there any hint that nature is acting in some benevolent way to transform this feud into a reconciliation. 

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 succor to both parties. 

Now that the men have become friends, the narrator once again focuses on how potentially dangerous nature is. In the end, the men are once again subject to the dangers of nature when they are spotted by the wolves. Prior to this reconciliation, the men mostly had to fear one another. Following their truce, nature becomes their primary enemy and concern. 

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The Interlopers

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