The Sniper Questions and Answers
by Liam O’Flaherty

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Discuss the meaning of why the sniper is the only character that the author describes in great detail.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think that the significance in describing the sniper in such detailed terms is to highlight the transformation that is within him as a result of his experiences.  To a great extent, the sniper views himself as merely a cog in the machine of war.  He does not see himself as anything outside of the mission with which he has been charged to complete.  In not seeing anything out of the mission and not seeing himself as anything more than the mission or cause, the reader is able to see him as the center of the narrative.  When he recognizes what he has done and his own moral and ethical responsibility in the taking of human life and the emotions that are brought out as a result of this, the focus has to be on him.  It is evident that his change is reflective of something larger.  While he saw himself as part of a cause that sought to minimize his own identity, his own recognition of his responsibility and his rejection of war is what makes him larger than one character, representative of the disenchantment of an entire post- war generation.  The focus of the narrative operates in this trajectory, making it necessary to place the focus on him for the sniper comes to represent much more than his own narrative in the process of the story.

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