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Define the characterization of the main character in Liam O'Flaherty's "The Sniper"...

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pranavkpr240 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 1, 2012 at 2:26 AM via web

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Define the characterization of the main character in Liam O'Flaherty's "The Sniper"

 

 

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vmoriarity | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 7, 2012 at 1:54 PM (Answer #1)

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The main character in O'Flaherty's "The Sniper" is characterized as a rugged soldier who is hardened to the horrors of war. In the beginning of the story, the sniper is described as an expert at his job.  He has "the cold gleam of a fanatic" in his eyes and "is used to looking at death."  His movements are those of a well trained sniper.  He eats his sandwich "hungrily" hinting at an animalistic nature, a person who is running more on instinct.  The sniper does ponder whether to smoke and does so "hurriedly". Again, this is training taking over.  Even though this puts him in danger, the action is done cautiously.

Later when the old woman points him out to soldiers who arrive in an armored car, the sniper deftly kills the man at the turret and then kills the woman. 

When shot in the arm by the other sniper, the main character dresses his woulnd, impervious to the pain caused by the injury and then shrewdly devises a plan to cause his enemy to reveal his whereabouts. When the opportunity strike, the sniper kills him.

It is only then that the sniper reveals a softer side.  Realizing he has killed the other sniper, he is "bitten by remorse."  The realization that he is no longer in immediate danger gives way to a softer side that sets up the ironic ending causing the sniper to wonder who his enemy was.  When he makes his way to the body, that is when he realizes he has killed his own brother.

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