Why does being trapped cause a change in the men's attitude toward each other in "The Interlopers" by Saki?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Georg and Ulrich are the current generation of a three-generation family feud over a rather worthless piece of land in "The Interlopers" by Saki. On this stormy night they are both in the forest to hunt, and they are there to hunt one another.

The storm causes a tree to fall on them, trapping them just as they may have actually done violence to one another. Now, they have time to think and, in this unusual circumstance, they discover that they have more in common than they have differences.

It is not an easy truce, but Ulrich makes the overture by saying this:

"We have quarrelled like devils all our lives over this stupid strip of forest, where the trees can't even stand upright in a breath of wind. Lying here to-night thinking I've come to think we've been rather fools; there are better things in life than getting the better of a boundary dispute. Neighbour, if you will help me to bury the old quarrel I--I will ask you to be my friend."

Here, in this rather foolish position, the men have an opportunity to reflect on their own foolish behavior centered around this worthless piece of land. It takes more than a moment, but both men eventually realize that it is time to put an end to their feud. Ironically, of course, they make their peace just in time to be eaten by wolves. 

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