What is at stake in the story?"The Interlopers" by Saki

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Saki's "The Interlopers," more than land ownership at stake is the pride of each of the feuding sides in their enmity over the "most jealously guarded of all...territorial possessions."  For this "neighbor feud" has grown into that of a personal one that has been handed down to Ulrich von Gradwitz since he has become the head of his family.

Even when Ulrich and his archenemy George Znaeym are trapped beneath the branches of beech tree struck by the violence of the storm, they cling to this pride in their feud, boasting each that their men will be the first to arrive and deal with their enemy:

"So your're not killed, as you ought to be, but you're caught, anyway," he cried; "caught fast.  Ho, what a jest, Ulrich von Gradwitz snared in his stolen forest.  There's real justice for you!"

"I'm caught in my own forest-land," retorted Ulrich.  "When my men come to release us you will wish, perhaps, that you were in a better plight than caught poaching on a neighbor's land, shame on you."

As the men lie pinned beneath the tree, there is a "bitterness of possible defeat" that courses through each of them until they finally realize that more is at stake than their prides: other interlopers come--wolves--and now their very lives are at stake.

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