How does "The Interlopers" demonstrate man vs. wild conflict?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question because most readers primarily associate "The Interlopers" with man versus man conflict.  However, in the end, when the wolves approach the trapped men, Saki implies that man versus wild conflict will end their lives.

You can also discuss the meaning of the world "wild." Of course, it literally applies to the wolves and the harsh natural environment in which Ulrich and Georg find themselves.  The "wild" causes the tree to fall on the two men, bringing their man versus man conflict to an end. Figuratively, the men must subdue their animalistic (or "wild") tendency toward territorialism and violence.  When the story begins, Ulrich and Georg are similar to male animals fighting over a female, the leadership of a herd, or a section of land.  They are willing to fight to the death to win what they think they deserve, just as many animals inflict physical pain and sometimes death upon one another to establish control.

Ironically, Saki chooses to end the story with the men subduing their animalistic or "wild" conflict with one another just as the literal wild "subdues" the men. This is a skilled touch on the author's part to portray one example of man versus wild in which man wins and one example in which the wild conquers all, especially his inclusion of both in such a short story.

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The Interlopers

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