The Interlopers

The Interlopers Literary Elements


Short Story

Setting and Context

Carpathian Mountains

Narrator and Point of View

Omniscient Narrator

Tone and Mood

The tone of the story is dark, macabre, and suspenseful. Just when the mood begins to lean towards the optimistic and hopeful, a pack of wolves descends and reasserts the dark tone.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Man (Antagonist), Nature (Protagonist)

Major Conflict

The two men are trapped in a feud with one another and later in a physical battle with nature. Nature ultimately prevails.


The height of the story occurs when Ulrich believes he sees a pack of rescuers approaching, but realizes they are instead a pack of wolves.


The deer running at the beginning and the narrator's comment that there is a "dark element" in the forest foreshadows the arrival of the wolves at the end of the story. More generally, the dark and suspenseful tone of the story foreshadows the tragic ending.




"You would come and keep the Sylvester night beneath my roof, and I would come and feast on some high day at your castle" (394).

The allusion here is to a Saint's Day celebrating Pope Sylvester, pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 314 to 335. Pope Sylvester is known for overseeing the construction of a large number of churches and for converting Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity. Saki may be using this allusion to signal a commonality of religion between the two men despite their other differences.


Saki uses imagery to create a tone of foreboding and darkness in the forest. As the men hunt one another, they become lost and trapped in the unpredictable and treacherous wilderness. Saki repeatedly uses the word "dark" to describe the setting and even limits one of the character's sense of sight, leaving both the main characters and the readers in suspense, unable to see what's coming until it is upon us.


The primary paradox in this story is the concept of owning property or owning nature. The very unpredictability and wildness of nature indeed makes it impossible for man to control or possess. Laws, rules, and customs that dispute this will inevitably fall to the will and ways of nature as they do in this story.



Metonymy and Synecdoche



Saki personifies nature in this story. In this story, nature commits deeds of violence, the storm “shrieks” (392), the branches “answer” (392), and the wind “whistles” (392).