The Sniper Questions and Answers
by Liam O’Flaherty

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In "The Sniper," does the sniper experience an external or an internal conflict?

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The sniper experiences mostly external conflict during the course of the story; we might assume that his greatest internal conflict comes afterward.

By "external" conflict, we can assume that this means the sniper encountering antagonism from another person or physical object, something outside of his body that acts against him in the physical sense. As we might expect in a war, there are a number of external conflicts, such as his ongoing battle with the enemy sniper, the threat posed by the old woman and the men in the armored car, and the machine gun that fires at him while he crosses the street. We might also consider his wound to be a form of external conflict, because it is an antagonism over which he has no control.

Internal conflicts are largely limited to minor train-of-thought glimpses we receive through the narrative, such as his indecision over whether or not to risk lighting a cigarette, or how he's going to get off of the rooftop. The sniper never really struggles with deeper issues, like the morality of killing or his purpose in the war. We might assume that this occurs after the conclusion of the story.

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