Define the characterization of the main character in Liam O'Flaherty's "The Sniper"    

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The famous short story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty was first published in January 1923 in a weekly called The New Leader. It tells of a sniper on a rooftop in Dublin during the Irish Civil War between the Republicans and the Free Staters.

After shooting and...

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The famous short story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty was first published in January 1923 in a weekly called The New Leader. It tells of a sniper on a rooftop in Dublin during the Irish Civil War between the Republicans and the Free Staters.

After shooting and killing an enemy in an armored car and an informant on the street, the sniper himself is shot in the arm. He contrives a plan to have the other shooter reveal himself and then shoots him with a revolver, causing him to fall off a rooftop. When the sniper goes down to the street and turns over the man he has just killed, he finds out that it is his brother.

The story contains several clues that tell us about the sniper. It says that he has the face of a student, but his eyes have the cold gleam of a fanatic. From this we can gather that he is very young, possibly still in his teens, but that he believes wholeheartedly in what he is doing. It says of his eyes: "They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who is used to looking at death." This implies that he is intelligent and aware of the implications of his actions but that repeated killing has made him somewhat inured to the horrors of the conflict around him.

A further indication of his dedication to the cause is that he has remained at his post on the rooftop all day without eating anything. However, the fact that he is willing to kill an old woman so mercilessly shows that his fanaticism has caused him to compromise his ethics.

Only at the end, after he has killed the other shooter and is weakened by his wound and his fasting, does he feel revulsion for what he is doing. It's as if his weakness makes him more vulnerable to his conscience, and so he curses the war, himself, and everybody else. In conclusion, we can see that despite the sniper's outer show of courage and loyalty to his cause, he is a very disturbed, torn, and unstable young man.

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The sniper is a proud, determined Irishman who loves his country and wants its independence. He is a man of steely nerves with a disciplined and ingenious mind.

With his mind trained upon his objective of eliminating his enemy, the sniper allows no emotions or personal feelings to enter into his job. For instance, when he perceives that an old woman who points up to the roof is telling the man in the turret of an armored car the position of this Republican sniper, he does not hesitate to shoot her along with the soldier in the armored car. Even when he is shot in the arm, the sniper stays focused upon his job. With great discipline, he methodically opens an iodine bottle, pours the liquid onto the wound, wraps his arm, and ties the cloth with his teeth. 

Then he lay still against the parapet, and, closing his eyes, he made an effort of will to overcome the pain.

When he is finally successful in killing the sniper on top of the other building across from him, the sniper "uttered a cry of joy," the first emotion he has demonstrated, perhaps because he has managed to fulfill his assignment. The terrible irony, of course, is that he feels his strongest emotion—"bitter remorse"—when he discovers that the other sniper was his brother.

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The main character in O'Flaherty's "The Sniper" is characterized as a rugged soldier who is hardened to the horrors of war. In the beginning of the story, the sniper is described as an expert at his job.  He has "the cold gleam of a fanatic" in his eyes and "is used to looking at death."  His movements are those of a well trained sniper.  He eats his sandwich "hungrily" hinting at an animalistic nature, a person who is running more on instinct.  The sniper does ponder whether to smoke and does so "hurriedly". Again, this is training taking over.  Even though this puts him in danger, the action is done cautiously.

Later when the old woman points him out to soldiers who arrive in an armored car, the sniper deftly kills the man at the turret and then kills the woman. 

When shot in the arm by the other sniper, the main character dresses his woulnd, impervious to the pain caused by the injury and then shrewdly devises a plan to cause his enemy to reveal his whereabouts. When the opportunity strike, the sniper kills him.

It is only then that the sniper reveals a softer side.  Realizing he has killed the other sniper, he is "bitten by remorse."  The realization that he is no longer in immediate danger gives way to a softer side that sets up the ironic ending causing the sniper to wonder who his enemy was.  When he makes his way to the body, that is when he realizes he has killed his own brother.

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