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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What are the internal and external conflicts in "The Interlopers"?

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There are both external conflicts and internal conflicts in "The Interlopers."

External conflicts:

Ulrich von Gradwitz patrols a narrow strip of woodland where there is much game, the strip of land that has caused a feud between the two families that dates back to their grandfathers. He hopes to discover his enemy, Georg Znaeym, whom he considers a "game snatcher" and a "raider" of this disputed "border forest." Znaeym also thirsts for the blood of von Gradwitz. In their animosity, they both hope that misfortune will strike the other. 

When the men encounter each other in the woodland, "a deed of Nature's violence overwhelmed them both." Lightning strikes a large beech tree, which sends large branches falling upon the two enemies and causes them to be helplessly pinioned beneath this tangle of branches. 

As the men are entrapped by the branches, they resolve their disputes as they put aside their enmity for one another. However, they do not solve their conflicts with nature as wolves approach them before either of their men do. 

Internal conflicts: 

Both von Gradwitz and Znaeym wrestle with their consciences as they lie pinioned under the tangle of branches. Ulrich von Gradwitz begins to feel "a throb of pity" for his enemy. Finally, he offers his flask of wine to Georg Znaeym. Further, he offers friendship to his old enemy by telling him, "I've come to think we've been rather fools....I will ask you to be my friend." After some thought, Znaeym says, "Ulrich von Gradwitz, I will be your friend."

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The internal conflict in this short story is the disposition of the two lead protagonists and the way that they let their deep-seated rancour fill them and cloud their reason. The introduction to this short story makes it clear that this disagreement is one that has been inherited down through the generations of the two different families and it is one that both characters are obsessed with:

...the dispossessed party hadnever acquiesced in the judgment of the courts, and a long series of poaching affrays and similar scandals had embittered the relationships between the families for three generations. The neighbour feud had grown into a personal one since Ulrich ad come to be head of his family...

It is this feud that causes both characters to be out on such a dark night and it is this feud that leads them into the sticky situation they find themselves in. In many ways, it is their own internal conflict within themselves and their inability to forget and forgive that is more powerful than any external forces, at least until they meet during the course of the story.

The external conflict is provided through the conflict between the Znaeym and von Gradwitz families, but also the conflict between man and nature. The way that a tree falls on them both, crushing them together, and the rather unfortunate ending of the story makes it clear that nature is a far bigger source of potential problems for these two characters, and ultimately results in the downfall of them both.

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The main external conflict is the long-running feud between the Znaeym and von Gradwitz families. They've been at each other's throats for years, and all because of a remote patch of forest.

This external conflict leads, in turn, to an internal conflict for both men as they lie on the ground, trapped beneath a fallen tree. Somehow they have to put aside their differences and work out a way to escape from their predicament. Thankfully for both men, they're able to do just that, and an astonishing reconciliation is brought about that finally appears to put an end to this long, drawn-out feud.

However, no sooner have they done this than they are faced with yet another external conflict, one that they cannot overcome; and that's how to deal with the imminent arrival of a pack of hungry wolves.

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The story begins with external conflict. Ulrich and Georg have hated each other all their lives and, since the feud between them is an inherited one, were always destined to hate each other. When they unexpectedly meet face to face, however, the internal conflict begins. They had each felt ready to murder the other, but as Saki wryly observes:

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.

The external conflict continues as the two men argue, even when trapped beneath a tree, but disappears as Ulrich, after a brief internal struggle, allows his better nature to triumph and shares his wine with Georg. Internal and external conflicts are resolved as the two men agree to be friends. The story then ends with one final external conflict: the oncoming wolves.

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Saki's short story “The Interlopers” is about two rival landowners who conflict with each other about a strip of forest land that separates their properties. The conflict has become a long feud, with both sides intent on claiming the land. As the story opens, Ulrich von Gradwitz owns the disputed land, and he is out looking for his enemy, Georg Znaeym, who he suspects of poaching and trespassing.

A summary should also include some of the background Saki gave about the families involved, and also the surprise ending.

The external conflict in this story is easy to identify. Ulrich and Georg are in conflict with each other over the land. In the story, this conflict intensifies when the men meet each other in the wilderness. Saki describes it thus:

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.

This is man vs. man external conflict.

Once the tree falls and traps these men, they threaten each other. Ulrich then takes a drink from his flask of wine, and the following happens:

the wine was warming and reviving to the wounded man, and he looked across with something like a throb of pity to where his enemy lay, just keeping the groans of pain and weariness from crossing his lips.

This indicates internal conflict. Ulrich begins to feel sorry for his hated enemy, so much so that he offers him some of his wine, which Georg accepts. To get to this point, Ulrich has to go through a change of heart, which involves self-reflection. Saki does not describe this internal conflict in great detail, but we know it has to be there.

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