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The Interlopers

by Saki

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What are the similarities and differences between Ulrich and Georg in "The Interlopers"?

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It is not uncommon for individuals to hate those who closely resemble themselves. In "The Interlopers" Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Ulrich, who have become great enemies, are very similar to one another while their differences are few.

  • Similarities

--Both men are landowners.
--Both men hate each other, having inherited a long-staying animosity
--Both want the chance to kill the other.
--Both hesitate when they unexpectedly come face-to-face with each other because 

...a man who has been brought up under the code of a restraining civilization cannot easily nerve himself to shoot down his neighbor in cold blood and with word spoken, except for an offense against his hearth and honor.

"Nature's own violence overwhelmed them both" as they are each pinioned by the large limbs of a beech tree struck by lightning.
--Each of the two men threaten the other after the accident, declaring that their men will arrive and kill the other, their enemy.
--Both men curse the other and they both "speak with the bitterness of possible defeat before them":

"Death and damnation to you Ulrich von Gradwitz."
"The same to you, Georg Znaeym, forest-thief, game-snatcher."

--Both experience a change of heart regarding their feud after they wait for some time for their parties. Faced with death, they realize the pettiness of their quarrels and change their minds about the gravity of their feud. Then, following some discussion, they agree to put aside any quarrels and differences and, henceforth, to be neighborly toward one another.
--Each man prays privately that his party will arrive so that he can be the gracious one and show "honorable attention to the enemy who had become a friend."
--Both men experience the "hideous fear" of the approaching wolves.

  • Differences

--The family of Ulrich von Gradwitz is wealthier than that of Georg Znaeym, for the Znaeyms are considered "petty landowners."
--Because the von Gradwitz family has "wrested" the land in a famous lawsuit from the "illegal possession" of the neighboring Znaeyms, the von Gradwitzes feel entitled to the land; on the other hand, the Znaeyms view the lawsuit as an usurpation of their property.
--When they are injured by the tree, Ulrich has "some drops of blood" in his eyes, but George is "nearly blinded by the blood."
--von Gradwitz considers Znaeym a "forest-thief" and a "game-snatcher," while Znaeym simply hates von Gradwitz for taking the land that he feels was once his family's.
--It is Ulrich who first broaches the idea of reconciliation between them.

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