The Interlopers

The Interlopers Themes

Nature as a Corrective

In just a short amount of time, the force of nature manages to erase a generations-old feud between the main characters. By trapping the men, it interferes in their affairs and prompts a complete reversal of the feelings of hate and greed the men once harbored.

Dullness of Aristocratic Lives

Saki commonly mocked the dullness of aristocrats and the banality of their customs. Here again, when the two men imagine what they might do in society as friends, Saki describes a "peace" state characterized by such commonplace activities as visiting the market square and hunting in the marshes. These plans live only in the characters’ imaginations however as they are killed before they can enact them.

Revenge as Downfall

The two men plot revenge on one another but ultimately nature is the agent of revenge. This is partially because there are rules to be followed for human revenge. Though both men are armed when they meet, neither is free to shoot the other because of the “code of a restraining civilization” (392). Nature, under no such restraint, triumphs over these "interlopers" by acting quickly and decisively to subdue the men.

Triumph of Nature

If one views the true interlopers of the story as the two men bandying about the forest at night, then nature ultimately triumphs by trapping and killing the two. The generational feud over the forest, which arguably can never truly be owned, ends when “[n]ature’s own violence overwhelm[s] them both” and makes prey of the predators (392).

Greed as Downfall

Just as Saki warns against possessing land, he also cautions against unchecked greed. The forests are described as the “most jealously guarded of all its owner’s territorial possessions” and the feud is fed by a sustained “personal ill-will” between the two men (391). This greed contributes to the demise of the two characters.

Inherited Hatred

Saki both mocks the custom of seeking to possess nature and also cautions against feuding. Consequently, the characters’ engagement in both leads to their deadly fate. Since a young age, the two men “thirsted for one another’s blood” primarily because each wanted to possess the same stretch of land (391). This hatred for one another and desire to tame the untamable leads to their untimely death.

Futility of Taming or Possessing Nature

Both men attempt to possess the untamable natural landscape and, in the process, wind up at the mercy of the wilderness. The two men in the story both rely on man-made customs to secure their claims to the land. Yet, no legal ruling or inheritance rightfully secures the forests as a possession of either of the men. Ultimately, the quest to make nature bend to the will of man fails and each man instead perishes because of this futile pursuit.