Homework Help

What sort of man was "The Sniper" at the start of the story?

user profile pic

englishabi07 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 15, 2013 at 8:10 PM via web

dislike 1 like

What sort of man was "The Sniper" at the start of the story?

Tagged with literature, the sniper

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 16, 2013 at 6:21 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

At the beginning of the story, the sniper is described as a young man, trained as a soldier. O'Flaherty provides a sharp contrast between the innocence and naivety of youth with the graphic violence and desensitization soldiers experience in war. The sniper had an innocent face, but one which had learned the gruesome reality of war: 

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. 

Despite the sniper's youth and innocence, he had become a seasoned soldier. He had become used to being shot at, used to killing his enemies. He had become desensitized, like a machine, to the violence around him. This is significant because, later in the story, he experiences a moment (perhaps a second moment at the end) of remorse. This is a moment when he steps back and becomes more human. But at the beginning of the story, he looks young but is a machine-like soldier. 

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes