What is the moral of "The Interlopers"?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since Ulrich von Gradwitz has been a boy, he has had an antipathy for Georg Znaeym. In the exposition of "The Interlopers," despite the bad weather, Ulrich ventures out in the hope of meeting his mortal enemy. The wind is blowing and animals are running around and not sleeping as they normally would.  He ignores the signs of bad weather in anticipation of meeting his enemy "with hate in his heart and murder uppermost in his mind."

But, it is this consuming hatred that causes Ulrich von Gradwitz and George Znaeym to find themselves face to face on this turbulent night. If there were no feud, they would have been in the comfort of their homes.  Thus, they are indirectly the cause of their becoming pinned under the branches of the falling beech tree struck by lightning.  And, while this situation does bring about Ulrich's change of heart and the eventual amelioration between the two men, it comes too late.

And, one moral lesson of Saki's ironic story may well be a caution that people should weigh the importance of their enmity toward others.  For, it is certainly not worth the sacrifice of life. In the end, von Gradwitz and Znaeym have resolved their differences, but as fate would have it, the resolution comes too late as many a good resolution often does.

Another lesson contained in Saki's story is that a people should never underestimate the forces of nature.  The storm which comes to the forests of von Gradwitz contains more force than his hatred, and the wolves prove that they have savage domain.  Only for a time are both men silent, turning over in their minds the wonderful changes that this dramatic reconciliation would bring about:

 In the cold, gloomy forest, with the wind tearing in fitful gusts through the naked branches and whistling round the tree- trunks, they lay and waited....

As they lay and wait, the men are vulnerable to the forces of Nature and whatever comes. When they hear the cries, von Gradwitz recognizes that the wolves approach them and laughs, "unstrung with hideous fear." Truly, man cannot defeat the forces of Nature.




Read the study guide:
The Interlopers

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question