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 may be able to make peace because they are trapped alone in the forest, without any observers there to maintain and enforce the social hierarchy. That Georg considers all other men to be “interlopers,” may suggest that he considers the structured social world an unnatural one that infringes upon the natural, equal relationship between him and Ulrich. The predicament of being trapped beneath a tree also equalizes the two men. Despite his wealth, the most Ulrich has to offer is a sip of wine. And despite their different means, neither man is more able to move the tree and prevent his own death, or help the other.
As wolves approach the men at the end of the story, Ulrich laughs like a man “unstrung with hideous fear.” The wolves will not recognize his class, and he understands that his wealth is no protection against nature. When the tree falls and when the wolves approach, nature does not distinguish between Georg and Ulrich, suggesting that class distinctions are artificial, and become irrelevant at the end of life.
Class Quotes in The Interlopers
The forest lands of Gradwitz were of wide extent and well stocked with game; the narrow strip of precipitous woodland that lay on its outskirt was not remarkable for the game it harboured or the shooting it afforded, but it was the most jealously guarded of all its owner's territorial possessions.
But a man who has been brought up under the code of a restraining civilisation cannot easily nerve himself to shoot down his neighbour in cold blood and without word spoken, except for an offence against his hearth and honour.