illustration of a wolf standing in the forest looking toward a fallen tree that has pinned a man underneath

The Interlopers

by Saki

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Saki writes, “Georg, who was blinded with the blood which trickled across his eyes, stopped his struggling for a moment to listen, and then gave a short, snarling laugh.” Symbolically, what is interesting about this line?

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In this line, Georg stops his struggling for a moment to listen to Ulrich. The struggling that he must stop is both a literal, physical kind of struggle as well as a figuritive, symbolic one. Literally, Georg must stop his physical struggle with the branches of the tree that entrap him in order to collect his thoughts and to listen to Ulrich's words. If he does not stop wrestling with the tree branches, he will not be able to hear Ulrich.

Similarly, for three generations, the families of Georg and Ulrich have been involved in a fierce struggle with each other. At the moment at which Georg stops struggling with the branches of the tree, he is able to pause the old hostility between himself and Ulrich for a moment. During this moment, the men are able to come together and find peace, ending the long family struggle once and for all just as they stop their physical struggle with the tree branches that hold them down and force them into a position of vulnerability. Though their emotional vulnerability yields a positive outcome, their physical vulnerability means sure death as the sounds of the wolves come closer.

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What is interesting about this line from "The Interlopers" is that Georg's situation of being blinded by the blood trickling across his eyes is symbolic of his mental attitude right before the tree branch breaks as he has been blinded in his hatred and has desired to shed the blood of his enemy, Ulrich von Gradwitz, this very night of their encounter.

In fact, it is also symbolic of his enemy's feelings, as well, since right before lightning hit the huge beech tree,

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.

But, in ironic twists to Saki's story, this shedding of blood from a source of Nature, rather than from the heart and hands of man, brings about the amelioration of the old enemies as they speak of how they will extend courtesies to each other.  However, just as they are unable to wipe away their blood, the two former enemies are also unable to undo their vulnerable situation and they meet a terrible fate as, in ironically, the two hunters become the hunted.

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