The Themes Of Selfishness In Saki's The Interlopers

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Humans are naturally selfish, even over meaningless possession. It is normal for us to mark our worth by our property. Many of our materialistic goods may be useless, but our status is determined by those very goods. We desire to have more than others, to be better than others. In The Interlopers, we see Saki weaving this concept with Ulrich and Georg. While Saki describes the men’s backstory, the root of their problems, he implants that ‘naturally selfish’ idea. The strip of woodland is “not remarkable for its game,” “where the trees can’t even stand upright in a breath of wind” (Saki 6, 10). Yet it was the “most jealously guarded of all its owner’s territorial possessions” (6). His vocabulary choice reflects the aforementioned theme. Rather …show more content…
Selfishness manifesting into hate is no rare phenomena. Ulrich, the initial protagonist of the story, feels that the forest land is rightfully his. He cannot help but hate those that try to steal what justly belongs to him. He is so blinded by hatred that sees exterminating those that try to take from him as an honorable and noble “quest” (6, 7). He originally thinks of Georg, his primary contender for the land, as an enemy, being the "man in the world whom he detested and wished ill to” (7). He is so enveloped by selfishness for his possessions that his worst enemy is the other man that wants what he has. On the other side of things, Georg feels that Ulrich’s family had wrongfully “stolen [the] forest” (8) land from his own and in turn, also thinks of Ulrich as his enemy. Several times, both vocally and mentally, Ulrich and Georg refer to the other as the “enemy” (6, 10, 11). They fight not because they want the unimpressive land, but rather, they want to best the person they feel has stolen from them. Their families became so enclosed by their selfishness that they refused to do anything but hate the other. “No one living [could even] remember a Znaeym [Georg’s family] and a von Gradwitz [Ulrich’s family] talking to one another in friendship” (11) The anger born from a feud for property grew into a chasm that divided two neighbor …show more content…
Just as a plant needs water to live, damage takes time to be repaired. Ulrich and Georg’s inherited broken relationship gave Saki the perfect opportunity to send this message to his reader. In a story that really requires no ‘time’ tracking, Saki seems to bring it up often. When Georg and Ulrich first meet face to face, Saki had them glare at one another for a “long silent moment” (7). With that choice description, the reader can almost feel the tension and can sense every passing second in the story. The depiction of that moment doesn’t explicitly show that time heals wounds but it does however, implant the importance of time in the back of the reader’s mind. This is not the only time we see time being subtly mentioned. Several times before the key part of the story, Saki brings up words of duration, like “minute” and “moment” (7, 8, 9, 10). Finally, we reach the section in the story where the men decide to end their differences. Mixed in the dialogue, Georg accepts Ulrich’s offer of friendship by saying “...I think I have changed my mind about things too, this last half-hour” (11). Now, the statement in it of itself is not unusual, it does not sound awkward or seem out of place in the story. The mentioning of the “half-hour” wouldn 't even have been of much importance if not for the fact that leading up to it, Saki has been weaving together many

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