The sniper by Liam O'FlahertyWhat can I infer about the sniper's character?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having remained on the side of the IRA, unlike his brother who has signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the sniper demonstrates a certain determination and strong sense of independence. 

Since he has fought in the Irish War of Independence before the Civil War in which he is now engaged, the sniper is a seasoned soldier and very experienced in his profession. Although he has made the mistake of lighting a cigarette, he keeps his head about him even after he is shot in the arm. He is also a strong-minded, quick-thinking, and cunning soldier. After he is shot at by the sniper on the building across from him, and he notices the armored car in the street as a woman talks to the man in the turret, he quickly assesses the situation: "His bullets would never pierce the steel that covered the grey monster." When a soldier shoots from the armored car, the sniper kills him with calculated coldness. He kills the woman, too.

Hearing his attack on those in the street, the Free-Stater sniper from the other building shoots him in the arm, and the sniper drops his rifle. He realizes that he must try to kill the other sniper with his revolver because he cannot use the rifle, and he cannot be found on the roof. "Then he thought of a plan."

Not only is the sniper a man of steely nerves, but he has a disciplined and ingenious mind, as well. He places his cap on his rifle and the other sniper shoots, thinking the man in under the moving cap. Then, he lets his wounded arm hang over the roof lifelessly. Seeing this arm, the other sniper believes that he has killed his enemy and he stands up. With great effort and pain, the Republican sniper fires his revolver and hits the man, who stumbles forward and falls from the roof. As he watches this death spiral of the man, the sniper becomes "bitten by remorse" even though he does not know at this point that the dead sniper is his brother.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think you can also infer that he is intelligent. He tricks the other sniper with an elaborate ruse (his hat seen over the edge of the wall). He thought up this trick while wounded and with limited supplies. Clearly, he is good at his job. He must be smart in order to keep a good look out while avoiding detection by the other snipers. He is also able to determine that the woman is an informant (although, as pointed out above, he has little proof of that). His superiors must have through he was intelligent because they allow him to work alone. He reports in sparatically, so he has to follow the orders he's given on his own.
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'd say that you can infer that he is the kind of person who gets to be very dedicated to a cause.  He is not one to really contemplate and/or question what he is doing.  We can see this from the fact that he is willing to do things like shooting the woman without any sort of thought or any regret after.

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The Sniper

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