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.
Changing Interlopers Theme Icon

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 them from reaching their goal: to kill the other. But after Ulrich makes a peace offering, Georg says that if they choose to reconcile, there will be “no interlopers from outside” to interfere with the end to their feud. Georg sees outsiders as people who would ruin the chance for violence, and then as people who would ruin the chance for peace. Georg believes that potential “interlopers” will get in the way of what he and Ulrich want, but his idea of what the potential interlopers want changes. This may suggest that Georg’s intense feud with Ulrich determines his view of other people. Although he no longer sees Ulrich as an interloper, he continues to see other men as interlopers. Georg still wants to own the land, and so he considers other people on it intruders.

At the end of the story, after the men have been trapped by the falling tree, wolves approach the men, suggesting that Ulrich and Georg may be the true intruders, or interlopers, in the natural world. In an alternative reading, the wolves observed at the end of the story may actually be their men, but Ulrich and Georg, crazed from cold and pain, see them as wolves. In this reading, when the men reject the feud they inherited, they also reject their relationship with the rest of society. All other men become “interlopers,” and even unrecognizable as fellow men. This confusion aligns with Georg’s belief that outsiders will always get in the way of what the men want, whether it be violence or peace. Other people are external to the personal feud between Ulrich and Georg, to the point where their men are no longer seen as human.

Changing Interlopers ThemeTracker

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Changing Interlopers Quotes in The Interlopers

Below you will find the important quotes in The Interlopers related to the theme of Changing Interlopers.
The Interlopers Quotes

The roebuck, which usually kept in the sheltered hollows during a storm-wind, were running like driven things to-night, and there was movement and unrest among the creatures that were wont to sleep through the dark hours. Assuredly there was a disturbing element in the forest...

If only on this wild night, in this dark, lone spot, he might come across Georg Znaeym, man to man, with none to witness - that was the wish that was uppermost in his thoughts.

Related Characters: Ulrich von Gradwitz, Georg Znaeym

And before the moment of hesitation had given way to action a deed of Nature's own violence overwhelmed them both.

Related Characters: Ulrich von Gradwitz, Georg Znaeym
Related Symbols: The Beech Tree

We fight this quarrel out to the death, you and I and our foresters, with no cursed interlopers to come between us. Death and damnation to you, Ulrich von Gradwitz.

Related Characters: Georg Znaeym (speaker), Ulrich von Gradwitz
Related Symbols: The Beech Tree

In the pain and languor that Ulrich himself was feeling the old fierce hatred seemed to be dying down.

Related Characters: Ulrich von Gradwitz
Related Symbols: The Beech Tree

And each prayed a private prayer that his men might be the first to arrive, so that he might be the first to show honourable attention to the enemy that had become a friend.

Related Characters: Ulrich von Gradwitz, Georg Znaeym
Related Symbols: The Beech Tree

"Who are they?" asked Georg quickly, straining his eyes to see what the other would gladly not have seen.


Related Symbols: Wolves