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 internal conflict does Ulrich von Gradwitz face in his own mind? How does it come about? How does it build? How is it finally resolved? What is the protagonist's goal? What prevents the protagonist from reaching that goal? How does the protagonist change through the story? What caused the change?

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At the beginning of Saki's “The Interlopers,” Ulrich von Gradwitz is consumed by hatred. His rival is his neighbor, Georg Znaeym. While their conflict extends back more than one generation, it has reached a climax with these two men. They despise each other, and not just because Znaeym's family lost a little patch of woods to Gradwitz's family in court years before. These two have been personal enemies since boyhood.

Gradwitz goes out in the woods alone one stormy night, trying to catch Znaeym poaching on his property and end their feud once and for all by killing him. The two men meet beneath some large trees, but before they do anything two each other, they pause. There is a sense of civility in them that prevents them from killing each other in cold blood for no immediate reason. As the pause continues, the wind knocks over a large tree that falls on both men.

As Gradwitz and Znaeym lie trapped beneath the tree, they continue their feud, at least at first. Each threatens the other that his men will find them first and kill his enemy. But the men do not come. Gradwitz manages to get to his flask of wine and take a drink. He hears Znaeym groaning in pain and begins to feel sorry for him. He offers him a drink of wine. Znaeym refuses.

As Gradwitz lies there beneath the tree, he comes to realize how stupid the feud between him and Znaeym really is. He tells the other man that they have been fools and that he is ready “to bury the old quarrel.” Znaeym replies that the people of the area would be shocked if the two of them appeared together in public, and he reflects that peace between them would help the foresters as well. He decides that he, too, has changed his mind about their feud, and he agrees to the friendship. It takes this accident to show both Gradwitz and Znaeym the error of their ways.

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