What can we take away from the conclusion of "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that O'Flaherty's life brings to light some level of dissatisfaction with partisan politics.  Having devoted so much of his life to the cause, he ends up living a life where political activism is not as important.  His decision to write and travel helps to illuminate a being in which politics is seen as futile and not the answer to the problems that plague consciousness.  In this light, I sense that the ending to the story is a compelling one.  It is the accomplishment of the sniper's mission that brings about an understanding that what he has been doing and what has been asked of him does not solve much of anything.  This revelation is one in which some level of change in the sniper is evident.  Such a development has to be cemented when he recognizes the target as his brother.  In being forced to live with the fact that he is his brother's murderer, the sniper has experienced an epiphany about the nature of war and politics.  At the same time, the conclusion reveals that the sniper has understood in greater detail his role in both of these elements. It is to this end and the change that results from it that the sniper learns and understands a truer meaning to his purpose and his function.  I think that this is where the story's ending proves to be highly relevant.


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