The Interlopers

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Themes and Colors
Power, Property, and Identity Theme Icon
Changing Interlopers Theme Icon
Man vs. Nature Theme Icon
Death Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Interlopers, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Ulrich and Georg both believe that a patch of forest on the edge of Ulrich’s property rightfully belongs to their own, different, families. This family feud has intensified over the past two generations, even though the land is not that large or productive. The fact that Ulrich and Georg, men decades away from being able to determine certain ownership of the forest, take the land dispute even more personally than their grandfathers did suggests that…

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The question of who “the interlopers,” or intruders, are permeates this story. At the story’s outset, Ulrich and Georg both see the other as interloper in his forest, and they see other men as interlopers as well. First, Georg says he is glad that he and Ulrich are alone to settle their quarrel without any “interlopers” to get in the way. Georg believes outsiders would interrupt the murderous dispute between the two men, and prevent…

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The wish of each man to dominate the other plays out in each man’s ambition to dominate the land. Georg goes hunting in the disputed border-forest to claim ownership over it. Ulrich stalks through the forest with his rifle because he hopes to kill Georg. Each man is angry about the other’s claim to the border-forest because he believes that the trees and animals within it belong to him. Ulrich and Georg both feel that…

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Ulrich’s rifle brings the potential for death into the story’s first sentence, and the threat of death lasts for the duration of the story. Initially, Ulrich and Georg think murdering the other would be victory. Yet, when given the brief chance to shoot the other, both men hesitate, showing that the potential to kill feels different, and perhaps more difficult, once it becomes real.

After a large tree falls on the men, and they…

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Georg is from a lower class than Ulrich. Ulrich sees Georg as a lowly poacher, who should be disposed of, and Georg sees Ulrich as a greedy landowner, who should give up the small patch of forest. When the men reconcile, Georg sees the class barriers between them disappear. He imagines that Ulrich will come and spend the night under his roof, and that he will go and feast in Ulrich’s castle.

The men…

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