The Interlopers Quotes

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will examine some quotes from the short story ''The Interlopers'' by Saki. This short story is about a long-standing feud between two families: the Gradwitz and the Znaeym.

Background and Characters

Have you ever had someone that you have argued with for so long that the original reasons for the disagreement hardly seem to matter anymore? Ulrich von Gradwitz and Georg Znaeym have inherited the feud between their families over a strip of woodland that is used for hunting between their properties. Per a lawsuit, the Gradwitz family owns the land, but the Znaeym family refuses to give it up. At the beginning of The Interlopers by Saki, Gradwitz is on the land hunting Znaeym to exact revenge. Is death the only way to solve this feud? Let's find out by examining some quotes from the story.

The Feud

At the beginning of this story, 'Ulrich von Gradwitz patrolled the dark forest in quest of a human enemy.' His enemy is Georg Znaeym and both of have inherited the lands that their grandfathers argued about. The narrators explains, 'A famous law suit… had wrested it from the illegal possession of a neighbouring family of petty landowners; the dispossessed party had never acquiesced in the judgment of the Courts, and a long series of poaching affrays and similar scandals had embittered the relationships between the families for three generations.'

After three generations, you may think that something like this should have been settled, 'if the personal ill-will of the two men had not stood in the way; as boys they had thirsted for one another's blood, as men each prayed that misfortune might fall on the other, and this wind-scourged winter night Ulrich had banded together his foresters to watch the dark forest, not in quest of four-footed quarry, but to keep a look-out for the prowling thieves whom he suspected of being afoot from across the land boundary.' The two have become so accustomed to hating one another and being competitive with one another, that neither side showed any willingness to come up with a compromise.

Meeting in the Woodlands

Gradwitz does not have to search long before 'he came face to face with the man he sought.' While both men 'had hate in his heart and murder uppermost in his mind', neither was willing 'to shoot down his neighbour in cold blood and without word spoken, except for an offence against his hearth and honour.'

Before they have time to act, a storm comes up suddenly causing a beech tree to fall on top of them. As both are pinned beneath the tree, injured and unable to move, they begin taunting one another. Gradwitz says, 'When my men come to release us you will wish, perhaps, that you were in a better plight than caught poaching on a neighbour's land, shame on you.' Znaeym responds, 'I have men, too, in the forest to-night, close behind me, and THEY will be here first and do the releasing… it won't need much clumsiness on their part to roll this mass of trunk right over on the top of you… I shall send my condolences to your family.' And so it continues back and forth.

The Truce

Gradwitz suddenly has a thought to share his wine with Znaeym. At first, Znaeym refuses, but Gradwitz continues, 'Neighbour, if you will help me to bury the old quarrel I - I will ask you to be my friend.' At first, Znaeym is taken aback, but then he responds, 'I never thought to have wanted to do other than hate you all my life, but I think I have changed my mind about things too, this last half-hour. And you offered me your wineflask … Ulrich von Gradwitz, I will be your friend.'

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