Please give three examples of foreshadowing that occur in "The Sniper."

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The suggestion of forthcoming events, or foreshadowing, usually comes at the beginning of a narrative, and such is the case in "The Sniper." Oddly enough, though, there is also an instance of foreshadowing near the end of this short story.

A frequent example of foreshadowing, the weather, begins the narrative: 

Dublin lay enveloped in darkness but for the dim light of the moon that shone through fleecy clouds, casting a pale light as of approaching dawn over the streets and the dark waters of the Liffey.

That there is moonlight shining through clouds indicates that at times there is only a little light and at times there is complete darkness. Because of this lack of any real light, there is foreshadowing that something might happen in this darkness of the night. As it turns out, the sniper's draw upon his cigarette causes the tobacco to flare, alerting the enemy sniper, who aims at this light that is so glaringly apparent in the darkness. He then is able to shoot the Republican sniper in the arm.

Two other examples of foreshadowing occur with the mention of the sniper's deciding to take the risk of smoking a cigarette. That he risks getting shot for a few "whiffs" of a cigarette suggests that the sniper is inclined to act impetuously or do dangerous things. In fact, he commits two dangerous actions. First of all, after he is shot because of lighting a cigarette, the sniper undertakes another risky ruse by putting his helmet on his rifle and drawing fire so that he can appear to fall from the roof of his building. Because the other sniper then believes his enemy is dead, the Republican sniper stands up to look down at his foe on the ground. Such an action by the other sniper allows the wounded one a clean shot, and his risk of drawing fire pays off as he kills his enemy.

Secondly, after he kills the enemy sniper and feels safe, the Republican sniper is disgusted by the whole business of shooting to kill his countrymen, and he irrationally commits an action that involves another risk.

Cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody . . . He looked at the smoking revolver in his hand, and with an oath he hurled it to the roof at his feet.

When he rashly throws the loaded revolver, the gun goes off, and the bullet nearly strikes him in the head. Again the sniper's impetuous and risky act puts his life in danger.

The disgust that the sniper feels with the civil war in Ireland also foreshadows the terrible and tragic feelings that the sniper must experience later when he realizes that, because of this war, he has slaughtered his own brother.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Foreshadowing, or the deliberate planting of hints as to what will come later on in the novel, is a deliberate strategy that is used very successfully by Liam O'Flaherty in this excellent short story. Continually foreshadowing is used to point towards what happens later on in the story. One of the first examples comes when the protagonist decides whether to risk smoking or not:

He paused for a moment, considering whether he should risk a smoke. It was dangerous. The flash might be seen in the darkness, and there were enemies watching.

This of course foreshadows the first bullet that is fired at him when he lights the cigarette, which reinforces the position of danger that he is in.

We could also say that the initial description we are given of the sniper foreshadows the killings that he commits. Consider that we are told his eyes "had the cold gleam of the fanatic." In addition, we are told that his eyes are the "eyes of a man who is used to looking at death." This of course foreshadows the ease and coldness with which he kills both an informer, a soldier, and his anonymous opponent on the roof opposite him.

Lastly, the most important example of foreshadowing in the story comes when he has triumphed over his mystery opponent on the opposite roof and instead of feeling happy, is overwhelmed by disgust and fear:

His teeth chattered, he began to gibber to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody.

This of course foreshadows the most traumatic revelation of the story; that the identity of his opponent is actually his brother.