What is the rising action in "The Interlopers"?

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The rising action of the story is when the men get caught under the tree.

The rising action of the story is when complications start to be introduced.  After the exposition, which introduces that characters and setting, the rising action is when things start to get more and more interesting.

In this story, two families are feuding.  Two members of the feuding families meet in the woods, each trying to protect his claim on the land from the other family.  When they meet each other, trouble seems eminent.

 The two enemies stood glaring at one another for a long silent moment. Each had a rifle in his hand, each had hate in his heart and murder uppermost in his mind. The chance had come to give full play to the passions of a lifetime.

The problem comes when the two men are trapped under a tree.  Their threat to each other is neutralized for the moment, and each can only threaten to have the other killed once his own men rescue him.  As they wait under the tree, they can't get away from each other.  They have to talk to each other, and get to know each other as people and not as nameless, faceless, enemies.

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The rising action of "The Interlopers" begins as Ulrich von Gradwitz and his men search for his enemy; soon, they confront each other face-to-face, but the beech tree around which they have moved in opposite directions falls on them, pinning them beneath its large branches. As they lie pinioned, the foes are confrontational with each other until Ulrich offers his flask to Georg.

Here is a definition of the rising action: 

Rising action is a series of episodes in a narrative which occur after the exposition and lead to the climax of the story. Rising action usually comprises the majority of the plot, as the author must include all necessary events and information in the rising action for the eventual climax and denouement to be significant to the reader [Literary Devices]

In Saki's story, then, once the reader is introduced to the characters, Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym, and informed about their feud, the rising action begins.

  • Ulrich von Gradwitz and his hunters search for "the poachers." Ulrich strays from his men, hoping to confront his enemy on the wild night that presages a storm.
  • Suddenly, Ulrich's wish is fulfilled, but the men hesitate for a split civilized second because

...a man who has been brought up under the code of a restraining civilization cannot easily nerve himself to shoot down his neighbor in cold blood and without a word spoken....

  • Just as the men try to regain their composure, "a deed of Nature's own violence" intervenes and the men are caught under a mass of falling branches as the tree is struck by lightning. The two foes fall beneath large branches from which they cannot escape.
  • The two enemies argue over whose men will arrive first to rescue them and punish the other. Then, they exchange personal insults.
  • As time passes the men give up a useless struggle; instead, they wait and worry about whose men will appear first. Shortly thereafter, Ulrich tries to free one arm that is only partially trapped so that he can reach his flask.
  • After he succeeds in swallowing some of the reviving wine, Ulrich looks across "with something like a throb of pity" to where his enemy lies groaning in pain. He asks Georg,

"Can you reach this flask if I throw it over to you?....There is good wine in it....Let us drink, even if tonight one of us dies."

  • But, Georg replies that he scarcely can see for all the caked blood over his eyes; with hatred he adds, "...in any case I don't drink wine with an enemy."
  • Uncharacteristically, Ulrich is silent as an idea begins to form in his mind. Because of his physical pain, the old hatred seems to be dying.
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