What are some examples of symbolism in "The Interlopers"?

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

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I would want to point out the way in which the violence of nature against the two interlopers on her territory is symbolised very efficiently in the way that both Georg and Ulrich are knocked down and crushed by the tree in the storm. Consider how this event is described in the story, which comes just as Georg and Ulrich face each other:

And before the moment of hesitation had given way to action, a deed of Nature's own violence overwhelmed them both. A fierce shriek of the storm had been answered by a splitting crash over their heads, and ere they could leap aside, a mass of falling beech tree had thundered down on them.

It is important to realise that in this story, nature itself is a vital character, and such passages and the symbolism they contain make us think that the true interlopers are the two men who have foolishly started a feud over a stretch of land that they had no right to in the first place. The tree, the storm and the wolves indicate symbolically the supremacy of nature which is compared to the frail and arrogant claims of man over specific tracts of land.

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Another symbol in the story that is worthy of mention is the wine flask. After the beech tree falls on the men and pins them to the ground, Ulrich offers Georg a drink from his wine flask. Georg initially refuses the offer; he maintains that he never drinks with his enemies.

Ulrich answers that he offers his flask as a conciliatory gesture. He feels that they have "quarreled like devils" over a "stupid strip of forest" for generations, and he is beginning to realize that "there are better things in life than getting the better of a boundary dispute." Ulrich then assures Georg that if his men show up first, he will make sure that Georg is assisted out of his plight before him.

For his part, Georg takes a long time before he answers. He asserts that "no one living can remember seeing a Znaeym and a von Gradwitz talking to one another in friendship." He imagines that there will be great peace if their feud ends, and he welcomes the idea of dining and hunting together. Georg states that the recent events have also changed his mind about Ulrich, and he accepts the wine flask as a gesture of friendship from his former enemy. Thus, the wine flask is a symbol of reconciliation and friendship in the story. The wine that the men share kindles warmth in their physical bodies; it also represents a considerable thawing in relations between two previously sworn enemies.

anfo's profile pic

anfo | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

the wine flask

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