illustration of a wolf standing in the forest looking toward a fallen tree that has pinned a man underneath

The Interlopers

by Saki

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In "The Interlopers," why is Ulrich so fearful at the sight of the wolves?

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In "The Interlopers," Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym are trapped under a tree that has fallen in the woods. Previous to the tree falling on them, Gradwitz was seeking to kill Znaeym for trespassing on his property in the woods. The men are pinned down side by side. They are almost withn touching distance. "Both are dazed, injured, and angry at the situation in which they find themselves."

Znaeym tells Gradwitz that his men are right behind him and they will save him and leave Gradwitz to die. Gradwitz replies that his men will arrive first and kill Znaeym. Both men know it is only a matter of waiting to see which group of foresters will reach them first.

Gradwitz and Znaeym have been feuding for years. They "hate each other for no other reason than they have inherited a feud from their grandfathers surrounding a piece of land." The feud has led to Gradwitz and Znaeym being trapped under a tree that has fallen in the woods. 

The "feud has reached epic proportions by the time the story takes place." While Gradwitz and Znaeym are trapped under the tree, they have time to think and reconsider hating one another. The two enemies talk things out and decide to put their feuding aside. 

Both Gradwitz and Znaeym are waiting for their men to come and rescue them. There are figures coming toward them. Znaeym cannot see who is coming. He questions Gradwitz about whose men are arriving first. Gradwitiz becomes quiet. He realizes the figures who are approaching are wolves. Gradwitz is afraid of the wolves. The wolves are dangerous:

The forest that Saki creates in ‘‘The Interlopers" is wild and untamable; it is held in the thrall of nature and her creatures. In their forthcoming destruction of Ulrich and Georg, the wolves demonstrate their ownership of this savage domain.

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