In O'Flaherty's "The Sniper," the protagonist is facing an internal conflict as well as an external conflict. The external conflict is surviving the situation. What is the internal conflict?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Liam O'Flaherty's "The Sniper" contains both internal and external conflict. External conflict is identified in three different ways: man versus man, man versus nature, and man versus supernatural. Internal conflict is defined as a conflict within a character. Typically, this conflict arises as a person's morals fight against their desire or need to do something (which conflicts with their morality).

External Conflict

Man versus Man: Given that the text takes place during war, the conflict of man against man is apparent. More poignantly is the existence of the conflict between the protagonist and the sniper on the other rooftop. The protagonist knows that it is his job to "take out" the other sniper.

Man versus Nature: The protagonist conflicts with weather he has been forced to face as he lies upon the rooftop. While this conflict is not openly stated, readers can assume that the sniper faces exposure to the elements.

Internal Conflict

Man versus Self: The sniper knows what his job is--to kill those on the side of the Free States. Given that the sniper is a Republican, anyone on the opposing side is considered an enemy. Up until the very end of the text, readers are very aware of the talent and support for the cause the sniper possesses. At the very end, the sniper, turning over his brother, suddenly realizes the true cost of war. He, unknowingly, has shot his own brother.

While the internal conflict is not openly stated, readers can assume that looking into the face of his dead brother has forced the sniper to question his position on the war. Up to this point, the sniper has been hardened by war. This seems to be the first time he fails to look through the "eyes of a man used to looking at death." This death, most assuredly, forces the sniper to question his actions and career as a sniper.