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It would appear that war is presented in an overwhelmingly negative fashion in this excellent and shocking short story. The tale presents us with one principal character who has been transformed through the war that he fights in from being merely an "ascetic student" to a man whose face possesses the "cold gleam of the fanatic." He is ranged against an unknown, anonymous opponent that he manages to triumph over, and yet, as the end of the story shows, this "triumph" is something of a hollow victory, because of the way in which he responds to the sight of his opponent rolling off the roof and falling to the ground with a "dull thud." Note how the sniper is shown to respond to this sight, which should have made him happy, because after all, he was alive and his enemy, that wanted to kill him, was not:
The lust of battle died in him. He became bitten by remorse. The seat stood out in beads on his forehead. Weakened by his wound and the long summer day of fasting and watching on the roof, he revolted from the sight of the shattered mass of his dead enemy. His teeth chattered, he began to gibber to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody.
Of course, this indicates that whilst he may have killed his enemy, he seems to have destroyed something within himself that is far more important. War is shown to have a massive impact on those who participate in it. This theme is of course cemented by the discovery of the identity of the dead enemy. The fact that the other sniper was the protagonist's brother consolidates the way in which war is self-defeating, for it often causes us to fight against the things that are most important to us.
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