The Interlopers by Saki

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What could the broken tree represent in Saki's short story, "The Interlopers?" 

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teachsuccess eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The broken tree may also represent the natural world as an arbiter of justice.

In the story, both Ulrich and Georg think that the other has received his just punishment after the tree pins them down. Georg exults that Ulrich has been "caught fast" on the land he has "stolen." Meanwhile, Ulrich proclaims that, since he is caught on his own land, he stands to receive help sooner than Georg. He maintains that he will eventually find himself in a better position than Georg, whom he deems the true trespasser.

For his part, Georg returns a spiteful answer, maintaining that his men will arrive first. Then, Georg insists that his men will release him and easily roll the fallen tree trunk over Ulrich. After Ulrich dies, Georg says that he will send condolences to Ulrich's family, for "form's sake." He is determined to fight their quarrel to the "death," insisting that there be no "cursed interlopers" between them.

As can be seen, both men are unrepentant in their hatred and malice. It's clear that neither imagined that they would ever face nature as the ultimate arbiter of justice. In the end, nature intrudes into their quarrel and ends the war between the human interlopers. The broken tree thus represents judgment.

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Dayna Watsica eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a great question. Sometimes in short stories, we forget to look for meaning in symbols. The broken tree means that the men were the true interlopers, which is ironic, because this idea probably never crossed their minds. 

Both men, Georg and Ulrich, believed that the other man was the interloper. In fact, according to the text, Ulrich was out with his men to see if Georg was there. He wished to find Georg at the other end of his gun to kill him for trespassing on his land. Ulrich does meet Georg, but something unexpected happens. A tree falls on them and the men are pinned down. Finally, wolves come, instead of men, and the presumably die.

In view of these points, it seems that nature made it that each man got his wish for the other. Both died as interlopers.

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