Provide two examples of irony in the short story "The Sniper." 

In the short story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty, there are two important examples of irony. The main character of the sniper becomes the prey of another sniper. The man the sniper eventually kills turns out to be his brother.

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The short story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty takes place in Dublin, Ireland, during a civil war. A young man with a rifle and field glasses is stationed on a rooftop. He can hear sporadic fighting going on all around. When he strikes a match to light a...

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The short story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty takes place in Dublin, Ireland, during a civil war. A young man with a rifle and field glasses is stationed on a rooftop. He can hear sporadic fighting going on all around. When he strikes a match to light a cigarette, he is spotted by another sniper, who fires at him. He shoots two people down on the street and in turn is shot in the arm by the sniper in the building across from him. He tricks the sniper across the street into thinking he is dead and then shoots him with a pistol. Somehow he hits him, and the other sniper falls dead from the rooftop. When he goes down and turns over the body, the first sniper discovers that the dead man who was attacking him was his brother.

There are several possible types of irony in literature. For instance, verbal irony involves a speaker saying something with an underlying meaning that contrasts with what he or she actually says. Dramatic irony is when readers are aware of something that the characters in the story don't know; this builds anticipation of the outcome. Situational irony is when there is a difference between what is expected to occur and what actually happens.

The two main examples of irony in "The Sniper" are both situational. First of all, we are introduced to a sniper on a rooftop who searches for people that he considers to be enemies so that he can shoot them. However, it is ironic that the predator on the roof also becomes prey when he is spotted and fired upon by another sniper.

The other example of irony takes place at the end. Although he is wounded, the sniper manages to use the clever ruse of feigning his own death to lure his supposed enemy out of hiding. After he shoots and kills the man who has been firing at him, the sniper encounters the bitter irony that the dead man is his own brother.

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One could suggest that an example of irony in Liam O’Flaherty’s short story “The Sniper” would be the very situation in which the author’s “protagonist” finds himself. O’Flaherty’s brief narrative takes place in Northern Ireland against the backdrop of “The Troubles,” the extended period of the twentieth century that was characterized by intense hatred and violence between Protestants loyal to the region’s “union” with Great Britain and Catholics who struggled for independence from that union and for unification with the whole of Catholic Ireland.

The story’s main character is, as the title indicates, a sniper whose job it is to locate and eliminate enemy combatants and their supporters, such as the elderly woman who he kills without hesitation after she points out his location to soldiers representing the “Free State” (mainly Protestant Irish who supported the union with Great Britain). The irony of the sniper’s situation involves his own predicament: The hunter becomes the hunted. The Republican sniper is spotted and wounded by a Free State sniper.

The story’s main instance of irony involves the revelation that the Republican sniper, who has prevailed in his sniper-versus-sniper confrontation, has killed his own brother. This revelation, of course, follows the fighting between the two snipers and the main protagonist’s respect for a worthy opponent:

When the sniper reached the laneway on the street level, 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.

Not only, it is revealed, did the Republican sniper know the enemy sniper, the two marksmen were brothers.

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Liam O’ Flaherty employs situational irony throughout his short story "The Sniper." Situational irony is when the audience does not expect an outcome in a story. At the beginning of the story, the sniper is described as being a man who is used to seeing death and feels too excited to eat his breakfast. After he outsmarts his enemy and kills him, the sniper is immediately filled with joy. However, after the enemy falls to the pavement, he feels remorse and guilt to the point that he begins cursing the war. The audience does not expect this dramatic emotional change to happen when the sniper is disgusted at his actions. The audience does not expect that a battle-hardened soldier who is excited about fighting would find war so revolting and be filled with such remorse. 

However, the most obvious example of situational irony takes place at the end of the story. The sniper lays next to the dead enemy soldier and finds out that he has killed his brother. This ending surprises the reader and is an unexpected outcome.

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Remember that there are several types of irony (situational, dramatic, verbal, etc...). However, the major irony we are dealing with here is the situational irony: the idea that what we expect as readers is not the result we get at all (we don't expect a fire truck to be on fire, hence, situational irony). 

So, in the case of O'Flaherty's "The Sniper", which takes place in the middle of Dublin along the Liffey River, during a time of civil war, the ironic twist at the end is what most turn to and what is most memorable. Clearly, the Republican sniper the narrator follows is supposed to eliminate enemies and threats. However, the threat he elminates is his own brother, and the reader does not expect that. We don't expect the protagonist to have such a close, personal connection to the figure he kills, a figure he regards as a "good shot", like himself. And from that we can infer that they grew up learning to shoot together. 

Another instance of situational irony is the "old woman," the informant for the enemy which he kills. We don't expect an old person to take an active role in a civil war such as this. But her cover makes sense, since no one would suspect her of dealing with the enemy, and many would quickly and easily dismiss her. However, our sniper guns her down, something we might not necessarily expect as well.

 

 

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