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The Interlopers CommonLit Answers

  • 11th Grade
  • Lexile: 1220

Source: The Interlopers by Saki

Guiding Questions And Answers

Ulrich is hunting…neighbors because they poach on his land.
Why don’t Ulrich and Georg kill one another?They are interrupted and trapped under a falling tree.
How do Ulrich and Georg regard each other once they are trapped?They continue to resent and threaten one another.
Why does Ulrich offer to be Georg’s friend?Because his situation puts their feud into perspective and he takes pity on his suffering neighbor.
Why does Georg agree to the truce?He recognizes that only the two of them can end the pointless fight involving so many others.
What will happen to Georg and Ulrich’s truce?It will end because no one will know that it ever existed.

Assessment Answers

PART A: Which of the following best summarizes a major theme of the text?There is no pride in holding on to petty grudges.
PART B: Which of the following quotes best supports the answer to Part A?“Lying here tonight thinking I’ve come to think we’ve been rather fools; there are better things in life than getting the better of a boundary dispute.” (Paragraph 19)
PART A: What does the term “affrays” most likely mean as used in paragraph 2?Disputes
PART B: Which of the following phrases from paragraph 2 best supports the answer to Part A?“The neighbour feud”
PART A: Which of the following statements best describes the relationship between Ulrich and Georg?Due to their families’ longtime feud, they both consider each other enemies and trespassers.
PART B: Which of the following best explains how this relationship furthers the plot of the story?Their refusal to make amends over the property feud is what brings them into the forest with the intent to kill the other.
How does paragraph 19 affect the development of the story?Ulrich admits to a changing point of view and a
desire to make peace rather than feud with Georg.
What effect does the author’s choice of resolution have on the passage’s overall meaning?The author’s choice of resolution in “The Interlopers” — the sudden and ironic twist of fate where Ulrich and Georg, having just reconciled and ended their longstanding feud, are left facing a pack of wolves — has a profound effect on the overall meaning of the passage.
This resolution emphasizes the central themes of the story: the futility of human conflicts in the face of nature’s indiscriminate power, and the transient nature of human intentions and resolutions. The moment of reconciliation between Ulrich and Georg, which could have been a transformative turning point in their lives and for their families, is rendered tragically futile by the unexpected arrival of the wolves. This stark ending underscores the idea that human grudges and disputes are insignificant in the grand scheme of things and that life is unpredictable and often beyond human control.
Furthermore, the resolution brings into sharp relief the notion of irony and the unpredictability of fate. Just as the characters overcome their deeply ingrained animosity and move towards peace, they are confronted by an even greater and unanticipated danger. It’s a stark reminder of the unexpected twists of fate and how quickly life’s circumstances can change.
Thus, the effect of the author’s choice of resolution on the passage’s overall meaning is to highlight the themes of the futility of human feuds, the power of nature, and the ironic twists of fate that can abruptly alter human lives and intentions.

How does the natural setting contribute to the meaning of the story?

The natural setting in “The Interlopers” by Saki contributes to the story’s meaning. Set in a remote and wild stretch of forest land in the Carpathian mountains, the setting is not just a backdrop but an active element in the narrative, shaping the plot and reinforcing the themes.

  1. Symbol of the Feud: The forest, the subject of the generations-long feud between the families of Ulrich and Georg, symbolizes the cause of their enmity. It represents both the physical and metaphorical ground of their conflict.
  2. Force of Nature: The harsh, winter setting emphasizes the power and indifference of nature to human affairs. The storm and the falling tree that traps Ulrich and Georg serve as stark reminders of nature’s dominance and unpredictability. This aspect of the setting underlines the theme that human conflicts are insignificant in the face of the immense and uncontrollable forces of the natural world.
  3. Isolation and Confrontation: The remote and dense forest creates a sense of isolation, which is crucial for the plot. It provides the setting where Ulrich and Georg can confront each other away from societal norms and influences. Their isolation facilitates the possibility of a personal reckoning and transformation.
  4. Irony and Fate: The natural setting also plays into the story’s irony. The serene yet menacing forest, which has been the cause of so much human strife, becomes the place where the characters’ conflict is rendered trivial by a greater, more immediate natural threat – the wolves. This twist ties into the theme of the unpredictability of life and the futility of human grudges.

Discussion Answers

An interloper is someone who becomes involved in a situation in which they do not belong. Who are the real interlopers in this story? Explain your answer.

In “The Interlopers” by Saki, the concept of the interloper can be interpreted in multiple layers, making the identification of the real interlopers a matter of perspective.

  1. Ulrich and Georg as Interlopers: Initially, Ulrich and Georg can be seen as interlopers in each other’s lives. Their feud over the strip of forest land, inherited from their families, places them in a situation where they both feel the other does not belong. Each sees the other as an intruder on their rightful property, making them interlopers in the context of their familial dispute.
  2. Humans as Interlopers in Nature: On a broader scale, Ulrich and Georg can be seen as interlopers in the natural world. The forest, representing nature, is indifferent to their human conflicts and claims of ownership. Their feud, which seems so significant to them, is trivial in the grand scheme of nature. The storm and the falling tree that trap them are reminders of nature’s power and indifference. In this context, humans are the interlopers in an environment that operates on its own terms, unaffected by human disputes.
  3. The Wolves as Interlopers: In the story’s twist ending, the wolves emerge as interlopers. Just as Ulrich and Georg reconcile and overcome their human conflict, they are confronted by a non-human threat. The wolves, representing the unpredictability and danger of the natural world, intrude upon what had become a moment of human understanding and peace. This intrusion underscores the theme of the unpredictability and indifference of nature.

Therefore, the real interlopers in the story depend on the perspective one takes. It could be Ulrich and Georg in each other’s lives, humans in the realm of nature, or the wolves as unexpected agents of fate, disrupting the newly found peace between the two men.

Each interpretation adds depth to the story’s exploration of themes like human conflict, nature’s power, and life’s unpredictability.

Considering the circumstances, why do you think Ulrich asks Georg to be his friend?

Ulrich’s decision to ask Georg to be his friend in “The Interlopers” by Saki is influenced by several factors arising from their extraordinary circumstances:

  1. Shared Vulnerability and Mortality: Trapped under the tree, both Ulrich and Georg are confronted with their vulnerability and the immediacy of mortality. This intense situation strips away the layers of their long-held feud, making them see each other not as enemies, but as fellow human beings facing a common plight. The realization of their shared vulnerability and the potential proximity of death likely prompts Ulrich to reconsider what’s truly important.
  2. Perspective Shift: Being in such a dire situation likely leads Ulrich to reassess his priorities and values. The feud, which once seemed so significant, may now appear trivial and petty compared to the value of human life and compassion. This shift in perspective could make him realize the futility of their ongoing enmity.
  3. Desire for Redemption or Legacy: Facing the possibility of death, Ulrich might be motivated by a desire to resolve unfinished business and leave behind a legacy of reconciliation rather than continued hatred. Offering friendship to Georg could be seen as an attempt to make peace not only with his adversary but also with himself.
  4. Humanization of the Enemy: The extreme situation allows Ulrich to see Georg as a person rather than just an enemy. This humanization breaks down barriers built over years of feud, enabling empathy and the possibility of friendship.
  5. Pragmatic Considerations: There could also be a practical aspect to Ulrich’s offer. Cooperation and mutual support in such a predicament increase their chances of survival. By forging a bond of friendship, they could work together to escape their situation and potentially save each other’s lives.

Some people say that there is a fine line between friendship and enmity. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain your answer.

The statement that there is a fine line between friendship and enmity is intriguing and can be both agreed and disagreed with, depending on the context and interpretation of human relationships.


  1. Emotional Intensity: Both friendship and enmity are marked by strong emotions, albeit at opposite ends of the spectrum. The intensity of feelings in both cases can sometimes mean that a shift in circumstances or perspective can rapidly transform one into the other. For example, a betrayal by a friend can turn a deep friendship into deep enmity, illustrating how intense emotions can easily cross the line.
  2. Shared History and Intimacy: Close friendships often involve a significant level of intimacy and knowledge about each other. This depth of understanding can, under certain circumstances, turn sour and lead to powerful enmity, precisely because each party knows exactly how to hurt the other.
  3. Dynamic Nature of Relationships: Human relationships are dynamic and can change over time due to various factors like misunderstandings, changes in personal values, or external pressures. This fluidity means that the boundary between friendship and enmity isn’t always clear-cut.


  1. Fundamental Differences in Values and Attitudes: Friendship is rooted in mutual respect, trust, and affection, whereas enmity is based on hostility, distrust, and dislike. These core values and attitudes are fundamentally different and not easily interchangeable.
  2. Stability of True Friendships: Genuine friendships, built on solid foundations of mutual respect, understanding, and shared experiences, are typically resilient to the kinds of shifts that could turn them into enmities. In these cases, the line is not so fine but rather robust and well-defined.
  3. Conscious Choice and Effort: Maintaining a friendship or harboring enmity is often a conscious choice. People choose to invest in a friendship, working through misunderstandings and disagreements. Similarly, sustaining enmity also requires a certain level of emotional investment. The transition from one to the other isn’t necessarily easy or accidental but often involves a deliberate reevaluation and decision.

In the context of this story, what does it mean to be a friend?

In the context of “The Interlopers” by Saki, the concept of being a friend takes on a particularly poignant and complex meaning, influenced by the extreme circumstances faced by the characters and the story’s overarching themes.

  1. Mutual Respect and Understanding: Despite their long-standing feud, Ulrich’s offer of friendship to Georg, and Georg’s eventual acceptance, signify a newfound mutual respect and understanding. It shows a willingness to see the other not just as an adversary but as a fellow human being with shared experiences and vulnerabilities.
  2. Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Friendship in this context involves a profound level of forgiveness and reconciliation. For Ulrich and Georg, extending the hand of friendship means setting aside generations of bitter enmity and the desire for revenge. It’s about overcoming deep-seated grudges and making peace with the past.
  3. Compassion in Adversity: The offer of friendship is also an act of compassion. Both men are in a vulnerable, life-threatening situation, and this shared adversity brings out a sense of empathy in Ulrich. Offering friendship is a way to acknowledge their shared plight and to face it together, rather than as enemies.
  4. A Shift in Perspective: To be a friend in this story means to have a shift in perspective — from viewing the other as an interloper and enemy to seeing them as an ally and perhaps even an equal. This shift is a crucial step towards breaking the cycle of hatred and conflict.
  5. Pragmatic Alliance: On a more pragmatic level, being a friend in such a situation can also imply forming an alliance for mutual benefit — working together to survive their predicament. It’s an understanding that their chances of survival and rescue are better if they cooperate.
  6. Symbol of Hope and Change: Finally, the idea of friendship here symbolizes hope and the possibility of change. It suggests that even the deepest and most intractable conflicts can find resolution through understanding and a willingness to see things differently.

In summary, in the context of “The Interlopers,” being a friend transcends traditional notions of companionship. It delves into the realms of forgiveness, empathy, and the transformation of perspective, all set against a backdrop of extreme circumstances and historical conflict.

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