In the story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty, what do these actions reveal about the character of the sniper:
a) killing the old woman,
b) pretending that he was killed,
c) discovering who his enemy was?
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The sniper feels it is necessary to kill the old woman in order to protect himself. She informs the enemy in the armored car of the sniper's position. So, as appalling as it is, the sniper kills the woman out of proactive self-defense. From the sniper's perspective, she is a casualty of war. This shows that the sniper, who was once a more innocent, young man, has become used to killing.
His face was the face of a student, thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic. They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who is used to looking at death.
The sniper's ploy of pretending to be killed is quite clever. It shows his intelligence. And we might even say it is devious, but again, he employs this strategy because he must kill or be killed.
The sniper kills his enemy and the body falls to the earth. The sniper is initially bitten with remorse and a powerful aversion to war. This shows that he has not become completely desensitized to violence. It shows he still has compassion for humanity. He seems to snap back to his soldier's mentality when his revolver accidentally goes off. But with the lasting image of looking into "his brother's face," the reader does get the sense that he, once again, is struck with compassion and humanity, especially considering the remorse he must feel in killing his own "brother."
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