How does the author create suspense in the tale of "The Sniper"?

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junebug614 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author creates suspense several different ways in the telling of "The Sniper."  First off, the setting of the story most definitely creates suspense for the reader.  The narrator, a sniper during the civil war in Ireland, is on a rooftop, completely isolated from anyone else.  The time of day, twilight into evening, also adds to the suspense. 

 Next, the reader's limited information gathered through the narrator creates and adds to suspense.  We only see what he sees, and we feel completely wrapped up in his predicament. 

The mood of the story also creates suspense.  Images and sounds detailed throughout the story foster an environment in which we know something bad is going to happen by the end of the story.

 Finally, the basic plot of the story creates suspense for the reader.  Because we are only privy to the narrator's thoughts, we aren't aware of anything else that might be going on with the other sniper he's shooting at (and who is shooting at the narrator!).  When the narrator feels the intense desire to see the man he's killed, the reader knows there's a reason why, however unconscious.  The moment where the narrator looks into the face of his brother is the culmination of suspense throughout the entire story. 

clane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Sniper" takes place historically during the Irish Civil War in the 1920s that even divided families.

The story begins with a sense of danger when the author describes the how the "heavy guns roared" in the streets. The reader gets a sense of foreboding that the war is right outside people's doorsteps and the streets are not a very safe place to be.

As the story progresses the author presents the sniper on the roof top with several conflicts which help to build the suspense of the story. First there was a woman pointing the rooftop where he lay in wait who might have given away his position. Then he resolves the conflict by shooting her and in doing so gives his location away to another shooter that injures him with shot. The sniper finally tricks the second sniper and shoots him dead only to find that the sniper was his brother.

The story, while suspenseful is also a great example of conflict and theme. We see several conflicts followed by quick resolutions in the story that support the theme that war can be horrific and inhumane, especially civil war because you are fighting against your neighbors and as the story clearly shows, sometimes even your own family.