What is the setting of Liam O'Flaherty's "The Sniper?" 

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The setting of Liam O'Flaherty's tragic mini-story is described in the opening sentences:

"Dublin (the capital of Ireland) lay enveloped in darkness...the dark waters of the Liffey.  Around the beleaguered Four Courts the heavy guns roared  Here and there through the city, machine guns and rifles broke the silence of the night...On a rooftop near O'Connel Bridge..."

Right away, O'Flaherty establishes the setting of his story.  Right away, the reader knows the story takes place, at night, in Ireland during the civil war between Republicans and Free Staters.  A sniper's job is to identify the most advantageous position from which to locate targets without giving away his location.  That usually means rooftops and church bell towers, which give the best view of the surrounding areas.  It is lonely work and there is almost always a comfortable distance between the sniper and his target, which makes the killing a little less unpalatable.  The targets are anonymous, distant figures.  O'Flaherty has his "protagonist" (?) deviate from standard practice and take the opportunity to get a close look at his latest victim, an enemy sniper.  The result is not what he would have expected.