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 the other man thwarts the authority he has over nature. However, instead of either of the men murdering the other when they round a large tree and come face-to-face, the force of the storm fells the tree, and it traps them both. Nature forces the men to lie beside each other, robbed of the simple ability to walk away from or toward each other.
After nature causes this near-death experience, the two men reconcile. Georg imagines that the new peace between them will mean that they dominate nature together. He thinks they will go hunting. Yet once they make amends, the men realize that even when they shout for help together, their voices are not loud enough to reach anyone through the trees and wind. No “interlopers,” and not even Ulrich and Georg’s own hunting parties, notice the break in the feud. (Perhaps each man exaggerated the proximity and presence of his own group of men, in an effort to intimidate or impress the other man.) Instead of either group of men arriving, wolves appear over the hillside. Neither Ulrich nor Georg is killed or rescued by the other man. Both men will receive the same death, from a natural world that does not recognize which one of the men owns it.
Man vs. Nature ThemeTracker
Man vs. Nature Quotes in The Interlopers
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...
And before the moment of hesitation had given way to action a deed of Nature's own violence overwhelmed them both.
Both men spoke with the bitterness of possible defeat before them, for each knew that it might be long before his men would seek him out or find him; it was a bare matter of chance which party would arrive first on the scene.
"Who are they?" asked Georg quickly, straining his eyes to see what the other would gladly not have seen.