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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What examples of foreshadowing and themes can be found in "The Interlopers"?

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In "The Interlopers," there is foreshadowing in the use of the word "interlopers" in the story and in the personification of nature as violent and hostile. The themes include the conflict between man and nature and the violence of "honor cultures," which encourages feuding.

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The word interlopers is itself used as a form of foreshadowing in "The Interlopers." It is mentioned twice by Georg Znaeym, first when the two men are enemies and Georg wants to fight Ulrich with no interlopers to come between them and then after they become friends.

The two men each regard the other as an interloper, but George is referring to some unspecified interference from outside, which finally comes in the shape of the wolves. A wolf has a peculiar way of moving, between a walk and a run, which is often called "loping." Moreover, Saki had enjoyed a classical education and knew that the Latin for wolf is lupus. He would also have known the expression "Homo homini lupus," or "man is a wolf to man." Further foreshadowing is present in the personification of nature as violent and unforgiving. This immediately precedes the falling tree and foreshadows the arrival of the wolves at the end of the story.

One of the major themes of "The Interlopers" is the conflict between man and nature. The two men assume that their personal conflict is of overriding importance, but when this is resolved, the conflict with the hostile land that neither of them truly owns or knows has the potential to destroy them both. Another theme is the violence inherent in so called "honor cultures," where feuds are passed down through the generations.

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Another example of foreshadowing in the story is when the falling beech tree pins both Georg and Ulrich down. When the beech tree is felled by the tempestuous storm, both men find their limbs tightly pinioned down by the vast branches. Since weather is a natural phenomenon neither man can control, the incident foreshadows Ulrich and Georg's final ambiguous fate at the hands of wolves (another element of the wild that neither man can control).

Later in the story, however, both men make peace with each other. Ulrich is the first to reach out to Georg. He offers him a drink from his flask of wine and asserts that they've been fools to let a boundary dispute divide them. Ulrich offers to let bygones be bygones if Georg will agree. For his part, Georg agrees with his old enemy, even though no "one living can remember seeing a Znaeym and a von Gradwitz talking to one another in friendship." In a stunning development, both men make a truce of peace with each other. At this point in the story, we imagine that things may end nicely after all. However, Saki decides to reiterate that things may not end well after all.

So, he uses the weather to foreshadow the eventual catastrophe that will afflict the men at the end of the story. Notice that the men have made peace, but the volatile weather has still not ebbed in its entirety.

For a space both men were silent, turning over in their minds the wonderful changes that this dramatic reconciliation would bring about. In the cold, gloomy forest, with the wind tearing in fitful gusts through the naked branches and whistling round the tree-trunks, they lay and waited for the help that would now bring release and succor to both parties.

In the story, Saki uses foreshadowing and other literary devices to reinforce a major theme: generational conflicts are futile and often result in senseless violence. Similar to the generational conflicts in works like Romeo and Juliet, The Interlopers reinforce the tragedy of inherited generational feuds. In Saki's story, we are stunned by the ironic ending; despite the peace agreement between Ulrich and Georg, nature gives them the original desires of their hearts. Thus, instead of celebrating each other's rescue, both will presumably face an ugly death together.


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At the very beginning of the story the narrator is describing how the fighting began between the two families.  He writes, “as men each prayed that misfortune might fall on the other,” The roebuck, which usually kept in the sheltered hollows during a storm-wind, were running like driven things to-night, and there was movement and unrest among the creatures that were wont to sleep through the dark hours. Assuredly there was a disturbing element in the forest, “

The fact that the deer are running indicates the presence of predators.  Not all predators in woods that night are men.  This is an example of foreshadowing of something bad happening before the story ends.

The themes of this story are: "Enmity, the hatred each feels toward the other. Community The uneasy relationship between Ulrich and Georg has repercussions within the community. Man and Nature The very title of the story alludes to the fact that the men are trespassing on the forest in their attempts to assert ownership of it. Social Class The Gradwitz family occupies a higher social class than the Znaeym family, and this is one of the reasons that the feud has lasted throughout the generations."

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