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...
(The entire section is 683 words.)
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Late at night, a lone Republican sniper waits atop a rooftop in Dublin, Ireland. It is June of 1922. Nearby Republican and Free States forces battle over the Four Courts judicial building and throughout the city.
The sniper has been on the rooftop since the morning. Now he eats a sandwich and drinks some whiskey. He risks lighting a cigarette for a quick puff. The light from his cigarette alerts an enemy soldier to his presence. A bullet flies toward the sniper’s rooftop. He puts out the cigarette and switches position.
However, the flash of the rifle tells the sniper his enemy’s location. The sniper realizes that his enemy also has taken cover—on the roof of the house across the street.
In the street below, an armored car moves. The sniper knows it is an enemy car but it would be useless to shoot at it. As he watches, he sees an old woman approaching the car. She speaks to the soldier manning the turret, pointing at the sniper’s rooftop. As the turret opens and the soldier looks out, the sniper raises his rifle and shoots him, killing him. Then the sniper shoots the old woman as she tries to run away.
From the roof opposite, the enemy sniper fires. His bullet hits the sniper in the arm, and he drops his rifle. The sniper examines his wound. He realizes that the bullet is still lodged in his arm and that the arm is fractured. He painfully applies a field dressing and then rests from his effort.
(The entire section is 625 words.)