The Force of Nature in The Interlopers

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Table of Contents

  • The Summary of the Story
  • The Fallen Beech Tree
  • The Wolves
  • Conclusion

The Summary of the Story

It is no surprise that nature is beyond control, slaughtering hundreds every year; man is also powerless when faced with human nature, which is equally as fatal. Surrounding everyone are these systems that nobody ever reconsiders, an exhausted solution that humans refuse to acknowledge in its failure, these holes that some find themselves helplessly falling into over and over again. Not to mention the robotic structure of this world that limits freedom; there's nothing to be done about these because the majority of humans are completely oblivious to the subconscious conflicts within a ‘high-functioning' society. Man is often found stuck in his own opinion to the point where even murder can seem justified to rid of quarel. A story that exhibits the stubbornness of people is "The Interlopers" by Saki. This story is a tale of a three decade dispute between two hunting families, the tension particularly lying between Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym. Their continuous altercation revolves around whether a plot of hunting land is actually the property of the Gradwitz's as a court case decided long ago. This disagreement being serious enough that both desire their opposer's death, warranting them to stand in the midst of night in a stalemate, guns in hand. In the moment the rivals hesitate to shoot the other, a tree falls upon them, immobilizing the men. The fact is, even though Gradwitz and Znaeym from "The Interlopers" by Saki brought this situation upon themselves, it was not entirely their fault as no man has complete control of his nature and any control whatsoever over earthly nature, which is proven through the intervention of a fallen tree, perpetual fuel for the men's feud, and the unexpected ending nature has in store for them.

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The Fallen Beech Tree

Since the beginning of time, it has been abundantly clear that man cannot command nature; nature is an independent force, which ancient Greeks and Romans accepted to be untamable by humans. So they believed in gods who controlled nature. The influence of nature is demonstrated when the beech tree topples over and traps Gradwitz and Znaeym beneath it. The beech tree interrupts the tragic scene about to unfold. Without this intervention, murder would be inevitable. On the other hand, a perfect, quick, and easy scenario is ruined due to both men becoming immobilized 'helplessly in a tight tangle' of twigs and branches (190). The author chooses to have the tree crumble over them to create an understanding that nature can change the course of a life in a few seconds. Plus it was convenient for the storyline. A person not getting what they want can be a Godsend. Sometimes people are lured in by things that are not beneficial for them, and nature rescues people from what their story would have been. For instance, someone was fixing to head to the store, but they change their mind as there is a thunderstorm approaching. Later that day, a mass shooting occurred in the exact store they planned to shop at. Similarly, this tree stopped either of the men from moving on to the afterlife holding the eternal guilt of having killed another man.

Even though earthly nature stops them from shooting each other, humanly nature lures the men into a spurious friendship with a grudge that cannot be left behind. Crushed beneath the tree, both men are struck with ebullience that they survived. At first, they are not pleased that their opponent survived too. As Gradwitz listens to Znaeym's agony, he feels a sudden "throb of pity" toward him (191). The two men claim to have befriended each other. Realistically, they only made a pact that regardless of whose foresters arrived first, neither man shall be shot. Each man hopes that his foresters arrive first so he can prove himself a compassionate man to the other as the other is released. Even in dire circumstances, the two manage to continue to compete with each other. All they wanted was to claim the title of better person. Grudges don't just disappear, especially not one that has driven men to attempt homicide. It is in human nature to insist on loathing another relentlessly. It is a pattern that nobody is cognizant of. People can break habits if they acknowledge they have a problem, but if it proceeds unnoticed, people don't stand a chance. This is the reason the author chose to write about a persistent negative exchange that buries itself in a cloud of pure-sounding motives, so well that Ulrich and Georg don't notice its existence. Basically, it must be instinctive for people to stand their ground, just as this passage has proven.

The Wolves

All the while, earthly nature once again proves itself to be an uncontrollable, spontaneous force. Meteorologists have been perfecting the forecasting technique for decades, yet they still guess wrong sometimes because nature is untamable. Georg and Ulrich cry out for help and see faint figures approaching in the distance. In response they cry louder, while trying to figure out who is coming to their rescue. To which when Gradwitz deciphers them, he is "unstrung with hideous fear" for they are wolves (193). The tree almost saved the two from their fate, but death was inevitable. Each wished for his opponent to die, so they both do. In the end, nature gives the men exactly what they wanted. Perhaps had they not acted upon emotions, the force of nature would leave them be. Earlier in the text, Znaeym told Gradwitz that his men would discover him "dead under a fallen beech tree" (191). How prophetic, as their foresters would stumble upon the remains of both men under a fallen beech tree, just as Znaeym said. The fact that nature happened to stop them from murdering each other and simultaneously caused their demise is in no way a punishment. One must remember some people are cursed with misfortune. There's no secret meaning behind it, nature is nature, an unshakable force. Whatever occurs, occurs. Humans are helpless when faced with the force of nature.


It is a given that earthly nature's rages cannot be snuffed, as the tree and the wolves have proven, but perhaps the cycle of human nature could have been broken before the situation escalated beyond hope. Humans are drawn to have grudges, but can fight back against this urge simply through empathy. All they had to do was try to view the conflict through the other man's eyes and none of this would have happened because they would have completely lacked the thirst for one another's bloodshed. Because they did not do this, they both perish. In the end, it did not matter whether they really became friends beneath that tree or not, as they both die anyway. Nature did not care if they resolved it. Nature did not care if they had a family to return to or whether they were rich or poor, male or female, genuine or ungenuine, pure or nefarious, young or old, religious or not, political or not. The disasters of nature do not discriminate.

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