The Sniper Questions and Answers
by Liam O’Flaherty

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In "The Sniper," written by Liam O'Flaherty, what techniques has the writer used to help show the main ideas?

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By making the conflict of this text a character versus character conflict, O'Flaherty shows how, in times of war—perhaps civil war especially—we can become our own enemies, our own antagonists. Obviously, the sniper does not know that the other sniper on the rooftop opposite his own is actually his brother. As a result, he makes it his primary goal—without realizing the significance of it—to shoot and kill his own kin. He becomes the antagonist when he kills his own brother, and this use of conflict drives the point home. Even if one is the "victor" or the "winner," no one truly wins in a war—everyone takes terrible losses.

The imagery of the sniper's eyes, early on, is also telling. He is described as having the "face of a student, thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic. They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who is used to looking at death." The phrase, "the cold gleam of the fanatic," is especially evocative. To be a "fanatic" is not...

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