In "The Interlopers," what aspects of the story's natural setting does Saki emphasize in the first two paragraphs?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The first two paragraphs of Saki's story "The Interlopers" emphasize the dangers and "disturbing element" in the "dark forest" in which Ulrich von Gradwitz waits and watches for "prowling thieves" even though there appears to be a storm approaching. 

Certainly, there is a sense of foreboding created by the description of the natural elements of the "precipitous woodland," as the night is "wind-scourged." The deer who normally bed down in the night in the hollows sheltered by rock and mixed growth are disturbed by the wind and threat of a storm. On this turbulent night, Ulrich von Gradwitz and his men patrol his strip of woodland wrested from the Znaeym family generations ago in hope of surprising the poachers he knows are on his land.

Saki emphasizes that the narrow strip of forest is not especially well stocked with game, nor does it have areas where shooting can be done. Nevertheless, it is guarded as the most valuable territory of the von Gradwitz family because of a three-generation fued. Further, even after the property was legally taken from the Znaeym family, the members of this family continue to hunt upon the land. In fact, the animosity between the youngest generation is intensified; for, Ulrich von Gradwitz continues to seek his enemy and goes out on a particularly disturbing and foreboding night specifically to find Georg Znaeym.

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mdelmuro's profile pic

mdelmuro | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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In the first two paragraphs of "The Interlopers," Saki emphasizes the idea of isolation, in order to foreshadow how man is truly alone when facing nature. 

Everything, from the facts given about these real mountains to the diction Saki uses, emphasizes this idea of isolation. The story takes place on the "eastern spur" in the "Karpathians," an isolated mountain range in Ukraine, in the middle of "one winter night."

Also, while the narrator says that the much of the Ulrich's land is "well stocked with game," the land where the story takes place is on a "precipitous woodland" that was on the "outskirts." 

This feeling of pure isolation allows the reader to understand more fully the feud the narrator describes later on in the second paragraph. Without the description of this land, the feud may seem a normal one held between neighbors from time to time. These characters would be better off allies in taming the wilderness than men fighting over an unimportant piece of land. 

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