The Sniper Essay, Liam O'Flaherty

1066 WordsOct 7, 20135 Pages
The Sniper Commentary “The Sniper” by Liam O’ Flaherty is a short story about a sniper, set in the Irish Civil War. The author uses characterization, symbolism and third person limited point of view to develop the central theme of the horrors of war. The main character in the story is the mysterious Sniper, who is serving active duty in the Irish Civil War for the Republicans. The story opens with the Sniper attempting to eat on a rooftop, when an enemy sniper opens fire on him. He retaliates and manages to take down the enemy sniper and his informant, a frail old woman. During the course of this, his arm is wounded by fire from another Free State sniper. Unable to hold on to his rifle, he draws his revolver and kill the enemy with it,…show more content…
Turning to symbolism, another key element, used by the author to tie together plot and showcase how the war detrimentally affects the lives of people living in the warring nations. In the narrative, the two warring factions, the Free Staters and Republicans are both comprised of Irishmen, who are fighting each other because they want civil things. This internal conflict is shown on a smaller scale with the Sniper and his brother. The conflict between the brothers and the Free Staters and the Republicans is internal conflict, a mirrored conflict of sorts. The two warring factions in the Irish civil wars both happen to be Irish, they’ve picked up arms against their brothers. The Sniper “felt a sudden curiosity as to the identity of the enemy sniper whom he had killed. He decided that he was a good shot, whoever he was. […] The sniper darted across the street. […] He threw himself downward beside the corpse. The machine gun stopped. Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face.” This excerpt relates back to the first point that was made, both the sniper and his brother were excellent shots, both had advantageous vantage points, the sniper’s brother was an extension of his own being. This scenario symbolizes the futility of a war like the Irish civil war, in which brother fights brother and Irishmen fights Irishmen. Furthermore, the theme of the horrors of war is further
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