Observe O'Flaherty's frequent use of irony in "The Sniper." How does this affect the meaning of the story? Give some examples from the text.

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The author's style is a narrative, a third person limited narrative.  Its subject comes from the Irish Civil War.    The tone comes from the author's use of ordinary images to describe the setting of the story such as the following:

"Here and there through the city, machine guns and rifles broke the silence of the night, spasmodically, like dogs barking on lone farms."  (example of the tone, the author's attitude to the subject)(O'Flaherty)

The story's meaning is simple, the Irish Civil War was a fight between brothers, it interrupted ordinary life in Ireland in a turbulent time that causes many families to lose their sons.  The author emphasizes the meaning of the story through tragedy.  The pain of civil war is having to face your fellow countrymen, now on opposing sides, but once on the same side.

"He felt a sudden curiosity as to the identity of the enemy sniper whom he had killed. He decided that he was a good shot, whoever he was. He wondered did he know him. Perhaps he had been in his own company before the split in the army" (O'Flaherty)

The ultimate irony in the story, when the sniper, happy to survive, hits the enemy, he loses his desire to fight.  He watches the enemy fall to his death, but the intimacy of the battle causes him to feel the need to look his enemy in the face.

"Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother's face."  (example of irony) (O'Flaherty)