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This is a story that is centred around the experience of one sniper in a civil war that is fighting for his life against an unidentified enemy. The entire focus is placed on a relatively brief but also tense time as one sniper spends his night fighting in Ireland's civil war. We are presented with this sniper facing an incredibly dangerous situation: he either lives and kills his opposing enemy or he is killed and his enemy lives to tell the tale. Note how he is introduced:
On a rooftop near O'Connell Bridge, a Republican sniper lay watching. Beside him lay his rifle and over his shoulders was slung a pair of field glasses. His face was the face of a student, thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic. They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who is used to looking at death.
Perhaps it is particularly fitting, therefore, that "The Sniper" has the title it does. We are given an insight into the mind of character who is a "student," but who has been transformed into a "fanatic."
The title suggests to the reader the focus on the character, but what is interesting is that we are not sure which sniper the title focuses on. The title could apply equally to the sniper from whose perspective we see the story, or the unknown sniper who is killed, and whose identity is tragically revealed. Both snipers remain nameless, which perhaps suggests how war dehumanises us and our relationships with each other, making us nameless.
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