What figurative language is used in "The Interlopers" by Saki?

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The narrator describes the wind as "whistling and skirling," comparing it, via metaphor, to the bagpipes. The action of skirling is most typically ascribed to this instrument. Further, the narrator says that the "restless beating" of the tree branches can be heard; this description personifies them, giving the branches the human characteristic of feeling restless. The narrator later personifies the storm by describing the sound it makes as a "fierce shriek." When Gradwitz and Znaeym are said to come "face to face" with one another, the narrator employs synecdoche: a figure of speech where a part of something is used to stand in for the whole thing; here, the men's faces stand in for their whole bodies. They literally meet each other in the woods; one man's disembodied face does not meet the other man's disembodied face. The narrator also says that neither man could bring himself to kill the other "in cold blood," a figure of speech; if someone is said to do something in cold blood, this means that they performed an action mercilessly and without feeling. This is an example of metonymy, where cold blood is being associated with a lack of feeling (as opposed to "hot blood" being associated with intense feeling).

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Saki's narrator uses such figurative language as hyperbole or exaggeration when he describes the hatred between Ulrich and Georg, stating:

as boys they had thirsted for one another's blood

They don't literally want to drink each other's blood: the figurative language simply amplifies the emotional intensity their feud.

The story also uses the pathetic fallacy in which the ominous weather mirrors the feelings of a character in the story, in this case the heightened emotions of Ulrich as he:

wandered far down the steep slopes amid the wild tangle of undergrowth, peering through the tree trunks and listening through the whistling and skirling of the wind and the restless beating of the branches for sight and sound of the marauders.

The passage above uses imagery too, which is description using any of the five senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. We can see and hear the wild landscape.

Saki uses dialogue as well to show the reconciliation occurring between the two injured men. For example, Urich says:

We have quarrelled like devils all our lives over this stupid strip of forest, where the trees can't even stand upright in a breath of wind.

The quote above also uses the literary device of simile, a comparison using the words like or as, when Ulrich compares he and Georg to devils.

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Saki uses figurative language in "The Interlopers" to expand meanings, generate imaginative ideas, depict scenes artistically, and intensify emotions.

Here are some examples of this figurative language:

  • Imagery
    In describing the animosity between von Gradwitz and Znaeym, Saki employs sensory imagery: "as boys they had thirsted for one another's blood."
    Auditory imagery is also used, as there is "a splitting crash" of the beech tree that "thundered" down upon the two men.
  • Metaphor
    Rather than calling the men Ulrich's enemies, Saki uses a metaphor that describes them as "the prowling thieves."
  • Simile
    After the men lie pinioned under the huge branches, Ulrich takes a drink from his flask of wine, which warms and revives him. He then glances at Georg "with something like a throb of pity." Here a simile, a stated comparison using like or as, is used.
  • Synecdoche
    As the two enemies come face to face, they hesitate because they can only kill instantly "for an offence against... hearth and honor." "Hearth" is an example of a part of the home being used for the whole idea of family. (Synecdoches are a figure of speech in which a part represents a whole.)
  • Figures of speech
    Each of the foes has "hate in his heart" (This is also an example of alliteration with the /h/.)
    Ulrich asks Georg to help him "bury the old quarrel."
    When he sees the wolves, Ulrich speaks with the "idiotic chattering laugh of a man unstrung with hideous fear."
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