In "The Interlopers," what caused the men's relationship to change?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Georg and Ulrich hate each other so much that on the night the story takes place, they are actively hunting each other. But an interesting thing occurs when they meet face to face: They hesitate. Neither man is prepared to take another man's life. In spite of their mutual hate, something prevents them from resorting to murder:

But a man who has been brought up under the code of a restraining civilization cannot easily nerve himself to shoot down his neighbor in cold blood and without a word spoken, except for an offense against his hearth and honor.

After this mutual hesitation, nature takes over and pins the men beneath the tree. They are still teeming with contempt for one another. But that previous hesitation showed that they are capable of civilized behavior.

Ulrich and Georg had always been hunters. But being pinned beneath the tree, they are vulnerable. In this helpless situation, they are now more like prey than predators or hunters. It is a terrifying experience and they only have each other in this case. Faced with the potential of not being rescued, Ulrich makes the first gesture. Eventually, Georg accepts his friendship. Facing a life or death situation (together) is what really puts things into perspective and brings the men together.

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The Interlopers

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