The Interlopers Study Guide
Introduction to The Interlopers
“The Interlopers” is a short story by Saki. It was published posthumously in the 1919 collection The Toys of Peace, and Other Papers. Saki served—and died—during World War I, and “The Interlopers” was written during his deployment. This is reflected in the story’s themes surrounding class conflict and pointless feuds. Both Ulrich and Georg, the story’s central characters, are prideful individuals who feel entitled to a parcel of land. Their conflict is inherited, dating back generations, but each man upholds the grudge as if it were entirely personal. Even in their moment of reconciliation, they are both too selfish to entirely embrace their mutual humanity. Each man hopes to be the one who will get to magnanimously rescue the other via the arrival of their men, indicating that the end of the feud has not truly changed the nature of the two men. Ultimately, nature must intervene in order to render Georg and Ulrich equals. As the wolves descend upon the trapped men, the central conflict of the story shifts away from man versus man and instead takes on its true form: man versus nature.
A Brief Biography of Saki
Hector Hugo Munro (1870–1916), who published all of his fiction under the pseudonym Saki, was a British writer known for his short stories, which satirized contemporary society and politics. Munro was born in the British colony of Burma—now known as Myanmar—but was raised, along with his siblings, in England by his puritanical aunts. After Munro’s father retired from his diplomatic post in Burma, the family toured around Europe. Munro originally attempted to follow his father’s career path, but he fell ill while abroad in Burma and returned permanently to England to begin working as a writer. He started his career as a journalist and experienced a series of false starts. His first major success began with the publication of his collaborative episodic work, The Westminster Alice, a series of political satires modeled after Alice in Wonderland. This was also the first work to be published under the Saki pseudonym. Munro spent the following years as a prolific and popular short story writer before he was killed during World War I after enlisting as a trooper—despite being past the compulsory age. Several works were published posthumously, including pieces he wrote while on the frontlines of WWI. His best-known stories include "The Open Window," "The Interlopers," and "The Mouse."