The ending of “The Interlopers” provides an excellent example of situational irony (when the result of a situation is different from what you expect the result to be). In the story, Ulrich and Georg are the heads of their families and they have a long-standing feud that was fueled even more strongly by their time as boys together. When the two become trapped one night, pinned down by trees in a forest together, they eventually decide to “bury the old quarrel” and become friends. The two endeavor to call for help, now satisfied in their reconciliation and eager to be saved together.
The irony comes when Ulrich spots a group of figures approaching them in the darkness. He proclaims that these figures are “running down the hills” towards the two trapped men. In this situation, one might expect a group of people to arrive and free the men so that the feud between their families can finally end. However, this is not what happens. Instead, Ulrich laughs, “the idiotic chattering of a man unstrung with hideous fear.” When questioned by Georg as to the identity of the figures, Ulrich says simply, “Wolves.” The irony here is that instead of being saved, it is implied that the men will be eaten by wolves. These two men achieve reconciliation only to be killed by natural forces. At the beginning of the story, they wished to kill each other—to face one another man-to-man. In the end, a wolf presumably does the job for them. When they remove their conflict and are no longer a threat to one another, that is precisely when nature enters and presents a new threat.