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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Student Question

What are some character traits of Georg and Ulrich in The Interlopers?

Expert Answers

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When the narrator provides some exposition, it is clear that Georg and Ulrich have inherited this family quarrel. However, they have taken that inheritance and channeled it into their own mutual hate for one another. When they first meet in the forest, that hate is present. 

Each had a rifle in his hand, each had hate in his heart and murder uppermost in his mind. 

But in the following sentences, the narrator adds that the men are not absolute savages in regards to their mutual hate. In fact, Georg and Ulrich show a fleeting moment of civilized behavior: 

But 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 without a word spoken, except for an offense against his hearth and honor. 

This hesitation suggests that both men are capable of civilized behavior. This hesitation also allows just enough time for the tree to fall on both men, pinning them to the ground. It is in this predicament, facing their own mortality, that both men let go of their inherited quarrel and embrace a more civilized, humanistic regard for one another: 

For a space both men were silent, turning over in their minds the wonderful changes that this dramatic reconciliation would bring about. 

That first hesitation is a very subtle but significant hint that there is even a remote possibility for a reconciliation. 

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