The Psychological Effects of War Exposed in The Sniper by Liam O’Flaherty

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The Psychological Effects of War Exposed in “The Sniper,” by Liam O’Flaherty War can destroy a man both in body and mind for the rest of his life. In “The Sniper,” Liam O’Flaherty suggests the horror of war not only by presenting its physical dangers, but also by showing its psychological effects. We are left to wonder which has the longer lasting effect—the visible physical scars or the ones on the inside? In this story the author shows how location plays a big part in how physically dangerous a war is. Gunshots heard throughout the city are a sign of how close the fighting between the “Republicans and Free Staters…” is to innocent citizens (this is most often the case in civil war). The sniper’s positioning “on a rooftop near …show more content…
The sniper brushes with death again when he throws his revolver down without thinking and it goes off. Bullets make a war very deadly, as they are much more precise than earlier and much simpler weapons (such as swords and muskets). The psychological effects of war bring on a very different aspect of horror. The sniper becomes quite fanatical about his job in the war. He gets very excited over the thrill of the kill, turning his job into a game. “His hand trembled with eagerness” as he was trying to shoot the “enemy” sniper, showing the intense excitement he felt. He has such a lust for battle that he even stops eating! The sniper also begins to see all others as “the enemy”- the woman in the shawl, an innocent citizen, is seen as an enemy to him because she tipped off the tank commander (which she probably did for her own safety). War has psychologically changed the sniper to refer to all others not on his “side” as the enemy. The sniper develops insensitivity to death during the war. When he kills the old woman, she’s trying to run away and isn’t really a threat. He even “utters a cry of joy” when he finally shoots the enemy sniper. This shows how war can get people caught up in the cat-and-mouse “game” aspect of it and forget what they’re actually doing—killing people. People get so caught up in the “game” that they don’t think about the repercussions for their actions. War is dangerous; however it does more than injure you
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