The Sniper 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 in Dublin. 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 supposedly enemy sniper.
Unable to hold on to his rifle, he draws his revolver and kill the enemy with it,
only to find that he has shot his brother.
Using characterization, Liam O’ Flaherty develops the main character in the story
builds a foundation for the other literary devices in the narrative. The author indirectly characterizes
the Sniper, showing him to fairly nonchalant. “He paused for a moment, considering whether he
should risk a smoke. It was dangerous. The flash might be seen in the darkness, and there were
enemies watching. He decided to take the risk. Placing a cigarette between his lips he struck a match inhaled the smoke hurriedly and put out the light. Almost immediately a bullet flattened itself against the parapet of the roof. The sniper took another whiff and put out the cigarette”. The Sniper is stone cold in the face of death; he feels his life is worth as much as a puff on a cigarette. His calm in the face of death is shown repeatedly, the author goes so far as to state it when his facial