The Interlopers Analysis


Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

This brief masterpiece is an excellent representation of the principal stylistic and technical elements of Saki’s achievement. Above all, the economy of the story’s construction—the swift drafting of the background, with its elements of local color and drama; the limited cast of characters; the neat, subtle introduction and arrangement of the plot details necessary to the surprise conclusion—is typically masterful, and indeed necessary to the success of the story because readers must not have time to doubt the realism of the situation, in either its physical or psychological aspects.

The quiet, calm voice of the omniscient narrator seems initially to comfort the reader with a sense of control over the events that it narrates, yet as the disquieting details accumulate—the restlessness of the forest creatures, the “accident” of the tree’s falling at just the right moment, the “success” of the men’s calls for help, the alarming hysteria of Ulrich’s laughter—the lack of modulation in the tones of the narrator becomes one of the principal devices by which the suspense is developed and sustained. The end of the story reveals Saki’s powerful control in the fact that the surprise is held back until the very last word—a word that, in retrospect, explains and justifies all the details and arrangements made in the careful crafting of the story as a whole.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

World War I
In the late 1800s and early 1900s rivalries between European powers began to intensify. Imperialist states were...

(The entire section is 757 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Point of View
‘‘The Interlopers’’ is written from the third-person omniscient point of view, meaning the narrator sees...

(The entire section is 350 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

1910s: After World War I ends, forty-two countries, not including the United States, join the League of Nations, an organization...

(The entire section is 260 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

Imagine that it is the day before the story takes place and you have been hired to mediate a peace between Ulrich and Georg. What would you...

(The entire section is 154 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

In Frank Stockton's short story "The Lady or the Tiger’’ (1884), a princess is forced to decide whether to bestow upon her lover the fate...

(The entire section is 197 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)

Forbes, Alexander Malcolm, ‘‘Saki,'' in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol.162: British Short-Fiction...

(The entire section is 125 words.)