Irony reveals how a long lasting feud between two families in Saki’s “The Interlopers” results in two rivals, with a lifelong determination to kill each other, and face death before they realize how much of their lives they have been wasting on their feud. The irony is that two families are so wrapped up in seeking revenge that they fail to take time to get to know one another until it is to late. The feud between the Von Gradwitz family and the Znaeym family over a piece of land has gone on for generations.
“As boys, they have thirst for one another’s blood; as men, each pray that misfortune might fall on the other” (Saki 1). Because of the feud between their ancestors, these two men assume that they will not like each other. Instead of trying to “bury the old quarrel”, they continued to fight against each other (Saki 4). “The feud might, perhaps, die down or been compromised if the personal ill-will of the two men had not stood in the way” (Korb 2 ). They each have felt like the other was the interloper and hated each other, so the feud continued. Because of the stories they had heard from their families, each man thought he had a notion of what the other was like and they never tried to get to know the other. After both men were injured, Ulrich admitted that they were fools “There are better things in life than getting the better of a boundary dispute” (Saki 2).
On the night this story takes place, Ulrich has his men watching for Georg to come hunting on the land he believes to be his. Fantasizing about their own version of justice, both men hope to have the opportunity to kill the other. Ulrich wished to come across Georg Znaeym, man to man, with none to witness. As the story progresses, Georg is so determined to hunt on Ulrich’s land that he risks his life, in a storm, to do so.
During the storm, there is a “splitting crash above their heads,” showing that they put themselves in danger (Saki 1). Opportunity for revenge came, but there was hesitation. The men came face to face in the forest with none of their guards around them.
Now that they could kill one another, they seemed to be all talk and no action. “Before the moment of hesitation had given way to action, a deed of nature’s own violence overwhelmed them both” (Saki 1). Now that they are trapped beneath the fallen tree, the men start to realize the danger they have put themselves in for greed. The enemies were stuck together with no where to run or hide from one another. “Because both men had lived lives full of hatred and dreams of revenge, they are now doomed because they have learned to forgive too late” (Dupler 161). After decades of hatred between the two families, they finally evaluate what is really important right before they are eaten by wolves. In all, Saki’s book “The Interlopers”, reveals how hatred and greed are able to overpower our minds and enables us to fully processes what we are doing.
This story leaves many creative minds to wonder how the story truly ends. The one thing the story left out was who the interloper in the story was, there is a possibility the two men were the trespassers on the land. And the true owners of the land are the wolves who were protecting their territory against Georg and Ulrich.