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In "The Sniper," what is a piece of evidence that shows the sense of missing identity?

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carolinejacko | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 3, 2013 at 8:02 AM via iOS

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In "The Sniper," what is a piece of evidence that shows the sense of missing identity?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 3, 2013 at 10:58 PM (Answer #1)

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I would point to the emotional climax of the short story as evidence of the sense of missing identity that is a part of the sniper. Prior to this point, the sniper was presented as being whole.  He is fully engaged in the mission.  He commits himself with intensity towards doing what he must do.  He denies himself self- gratification and endures pain in the understanding that his mission comes before anything else.  It is here in which the sniper is shown as whole, complete in his consciousness.  When the target is hit, the sniper has accomplished his mission and his wholeness of identity is what makes him eager to look at his accomplishment.  

It is at this point where the text pivots to show a sense of the missing identity intrinsic to the sniper.  He does not know it until this point, but upon realizing it, the reality is a brutal one:

The sniper looked at his enemy falling and he shuddered. The lust of battle died in him. He became bitten by remorse. The sweat stood out in beads on his forehead. Weakened by his wound and the long summer day of fasting and watching on the roof, he revolted from the sight of the shattered mass of his dead enemy. His teeth chattered, he began to gibber to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody.

 In this passage, there is much in way of evidence to show an incomplete sense of identity.  Consider how the sniper "shuddered" when confronted with the reality of his actions.  "The lust of battle" and the "bitten by remorse" inclusions help to communicate how fragmented the sniper's identity has become.  The ending of the passage in which the sniper "began to gibber to himself" facilitates this sense of missing identity.  When the sniper curses himself, the war, and everyone, he has become estranged from his sense of whole, condemned to fragmentation as the only constant from war.

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