Describe the character of the sniper in the story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty and bring out his transformation from being a fanatic to becoming more human.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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When the story begins, the Sniper is described as someone "used to looking at death." He functions like a machine, overcoming the pain in his wound; he has become desensitized to pain and killing. He does whatever is necessary to kill rather than be killed, so he fakes his own death. Having tricked the Enemy Sniper, he kills him, sending him flailing to the ground. The main character's transformation occurs as he looks at those he killed: the turret soldier, the old woman and the Enemy Sniper. He is overcome with remorse at these sights and curses the war. His humanity comes out here but seems to be scared away again when he drops his revolver and a shot rings passed his ear. Then he transforms back to becoming the dispassionate soldier. Only at the end, when he recognizes his "enemy" as his brother does the reader get a sense that the sniper might feel remorse and a sense of humanity again. The story ends here so it is speculation. His shifting personality reflects the duality required to fight in a civil war (or any war): to be able to suspend your sense of, and place in, humanity in order to destroy it.

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