The observation is made that there are very strong similarities between the supercontinents Columbia, Rodinia and Pangea. If plate tectonics was operating over the past 2.5 billion years of Earth history, and dominated by extroversion and introversion of ocean basins, it would be unusual for three supercontinents to resemble one another so closely. The term ‘strange attractor’ is applied to landmasses that form a coherent geometry in all three supercontinents. Baltica, Laurentia and Siberia form a group of ‘strange attractors’ as do the elements of East Gondwana (India, Australia, Antarctica, Madagascar). The elements of “West Gondwana” are positioned as a slightly looser amalgam of cratonic blocks in all three supercontinents and are referred to as ‘spiritual interlopers’. Relatively few landmasses (the South China, North China, Kalahari and perhaps Tarim cratons) are positioned in distinct locations within each of the three supercontinents and these are referred to as ‘lonely wanderers’.
There may be several explanations for why these supercontinents show such remarkable similarities. One possibility is that modern-style plate tectonics did not begin until the late Neoproterozoic and horizontal motions were restricted and a vertical style of ‘lid tectonics’ dominated. If motions were limited for most of the Proterozoic, it would explain the remarkable similarities seen in the Columbia and Rodinia supercontinents, but would still require the strange attractors to rift, drift and return to approximately the same geometry within Pangea.
A second possibility is that our views of older supercontinents are shaped by well-known connections documented for the most recent supercontinent, Pangea. It is intriguing that three of the four ‘lonely wanderers’ (Tarim, North China, South China) did not unite until just before, or slightly after the breakup of Pangea. The fourth ‘lonely wanderer’, the Kalahari (and core Kaapvaal) craton has a somewhat unique Archean-age geology compared to its nearest neighbors in Gondwana, but very similar to that in western Australia.
How does the omniscient narrator shape the story?
The omniscient narrator serves two important purposes in the story: she allows the reader to have an objective view of the feuding men and also gives voice to the workings of nature in the story. Because neither of the men is the primary narrator (though readers meet Ulrich first), it is of little importance who actually has the more legitimate claim to the land. Additionally, since nature itself is almost a third character in the story, Saki’s use of the omniscient narrator makes visible some of nature’s character even when its actions are imperceptible to the men themselves. Though the men are repeatedly affected by nature’s unpredictability, the omniscient narrator makes clear to the reader what is at play.
Who are the true "interlopers" in the story?
Initially the narrator reveals that the men each view the other as the interloper; neither thinks the other has a legitimate claim to the land. Shortly after reconciling, however, the two men rejoice that there are no others to interfere with their peacemaking. In this moment, the characters present all humans beside the two men as interlopers. One might consider nature an interloper; the branches of the beech tree trap the men and the wolves ultimately kill the men. However, given Saki’s well-known view on the superiority of nature over man, it is more likely that the two men are the true interlopers, disruptive in their attempts to own and control the wild landscape.
What role does nature play in the story?
Nature is almost a third character in the story. Saki repeatedly personifies the natural elements. In this story, nature commits deeds of violence, the storm “shrieks” (392), the branches “answer” (392), and the wind “whistles” (392). Importantly, nature also controls the plot of the story. Though the two men consider themselves to be in charge, they are at the mercy of the wild landscape the entire time.
What is the role of violence in the story?
The story begins by setting up the expectation of violence. The two men are on a hunt for one another. However, when the finally meet in the forest, the men are unable to act on their murderous plans due to some social custom. Instead, nature becomes the violent actor of the story, trapping and ultimately killing the men. However, save minor details about injuries from being trapped underneath the tree, Saki leaves much of the goriness of the violence out of the story, which some attribute to an influence from Greek dramas (Byrne 174).
What does this story suggest about property rights?
The story exposes the folly of man’s attempts to control or lay claim to nature. The two men engage in a generations-long feud over a landscape that is not theirs to claim. Their greed and attempts to possess the forest embroil them in a vengeful existence that directly leads to their death.