What is the charting of Freytag's Pyramid for "The Interlopers" by Saki?"The Interlopers" by Saki

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By following the nineteenth century German novelist, Gustav Freytag's Pyramid, the student can chart the pattern to the plot.  In order to complete this chart, a second reading of the story is extremely helpful as the student has already a comprehension of the sequence of events that develop around the external and internal conflicts of two characters, Ulrich von Gradwitz and his mortal enemy Georg Znaeym:


The setting is introduced [you can describe it] and Ulrich von Gradwitz patrols this dark forest in search of his enemy, who he believes trespasses upon his property.

Rising Action with the Complication 

The second paragraph of Saki's story explains the reasons for the hatred of Gradwitz for Znaeym.  [Your second reading will reveal this to you.]

Key to this paragraph is the passage,

The feud might, perhaps, have died down or been compromised if the personal ill-will of the two men had not stood in the way; as boys they had thirsted for one another's blood, as men each prayed that misfortune might fall on the other....

Then, the third and following paragraphs develop the rising action as von Gradwitz wanders down the steep slopes in the third paragraph.


The climax, of course, is the highest point of interest or suspense.  Interestingly, in a sense, there seems to be the possibility of two climaxes in this story:  the vis-a-vis confrontation of Znaeym and von Gradwitz and the suspense as the men hear sounds of what they believe are men approaching.  However, using Freytag's pyramid, the reader must include the initial encounter of the two enemies as part of the rising action, as is also the occurrence of "a deed of Nature's own violence," the "fierce shriek of the storm."

Falling action

Trapped beneath the fallen tree, the men argue about who will come first and the consequences of their arrival for the other.  But as they lie there, the two men come to grips with what is truly important in life:

In the pain and languor that Ulrich himself was feeling the old fierce hatred seemed to be dying down.

He offers his flask to Znaeym, and after some powerful introspection they change their minds about several issues [again, refer to the text] and effect their "dramatic reconciliation."

Unlike most short stories, Saki's story has another moment of intensity.  This moment is much like the Catastrophe of Freytag's dramatic pyramid. For, as they shout for help, the cruelly ironic appearance of wolves occurs.


 This, of course, is the surprise ending, which is not a true ending, or denouement.

And, so it appears that a simple plotting of Saki's story is not really possible as there are situations in the narrative that can be interpreted differently.