What is the tone and mood of "The Interlopers"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is with a the tone of a storyteller that the narrator of "The Interlopers" describes the savage domain of the forests of Ulrich von Gradwitz, but then there is a somewhat foreboding tone to the details of the enemity between von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym:

The feud might, perhaps, have died down or been compromised if the personal ill-will of the two men had not stood in the way; as boys they had thirsted for one another's blood, as men each prayed that misfortune might fall on the other, and this wind- scourged winter night Ulrich had banded together his foresters to watch the dark forest, not in quest of four-footed quarry, but to keep a look-out for the prowling thieves whom he suspected of being afoot from across the land boundary.

Thus, the mood of the story darkens as von Gradwitz traverses his land in the hopes of meeting his mortal enemy and killing him.  However, with an ironic twist of Nature, when they do come face to face, a huge beech tree splinters from the "shriek of the storm."  Then, as the two enemies lie pinioned, they speak in hateful tones of how their men will arrive and the other will be destroyed.  Ironically, though, the life-threatening accident has caused the men to give thought to other matters and they decide to resolve their differences.  Then graciously, each proffers the other his hospitality.  In a final ironic twist, they hear sounds and Znaeym believes that men approach; however, with a sick laugh, von Gradwitz tells his new friend that what they hear is wolves.  "The idiotic chattering" of the man indicates the gruesome ending they will suffer.

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the short story "The Interlopers," the tone is serious and defensive. Both characters, Gradwitz and Znaeym, have hatred one for the other. The setting affects the tone and mood. It is a dark, stormy night in the forest. Both men are out to get the other. There is a somber, gloomy, suspenseful mood. The reader anticipates which one will find the other first. Simultaneously, they run directly into one another, both with rifles in hand.

Who will make the the first move? This question leaves the reader in great suspense. There is a dangerous feeling in the atmosphere:

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.

Then, the lightning stikes a tree. The tree falls on both men, pinning them within close range of each other. The two men claim that their men will rescue them momemtarily. Ultimately, Gradwitz decides to let his anger and hatred go. He asks Znaeym to be his friend. Momentarily, the reader's anxiety is lessened as Znaeym agrees.

While the two decide to become firends, there is a team coming toward them. While they speculate as to whose men are arriving first, Gradwitz realizes it is a pack of wolves headed toward them. Again, the reader is left with a suspenseful mood as to what will happen now.



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The Interlopers

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