Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
“The Sniper” relates an encounter in downtown Dublin, near the O’Connell Bridge, between a sniper for the Republicans and a sniper for the Free Staters. Guns roar in the distance as the Republican sniper lies on a rooftop. He is a young boy. “His face was that of a student—thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of a fanatic . . . the eyes of a man who is used to looking at death.”
It is a June evening, and the sniper, who has had nothing to eat since morning, hungrily wolfs down a sandwich and takes a short drink from the flask of whiskey he carries in his pocket. He desperately wants a cigarette and finally risks showing his position by igniting a match and lighting one. Instantly, a bullet hits the wall near him. He takes two puffs of the cigarette and snuffs it. He raises himself to look over the parapet, but another bullet whizzes by his head, and he flattens himself against the roof.
An armored car crosses O’Connell Bridge and stops just below the sniper’s position. An old woman with a tattered shawl around her head comes out of a side street to talk with a man in the turret of the armored car. The sniper wants to shoot at the armored car, but he knows that his bullets will not penetrate its fortified exterior. The old woman points in the direction of the sniper, who now realizes that she is an informer. When the man inside opens the turret to talk with her, the sniper shoots, and the man slumps over lifeless. The woman hurries toward the side street, but the sniper shoots again. The old woman shrieks and falls into the gutter. The car speeds away, the man in the turret still slumped there. More shooting is heard, and the sniper...
(The entire section is 683 words.)
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