In this short story, the Irish Republican sniper is stationed on a rooftop overlooking the beleaguered Four Courts and must use his wits to outsmart and kill the enemy sniper on the opposite roof. O’Flaherty describes the Republican sniper by writing,
"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."
Given O'Flaherty's description, the sniper is depicted as an enthusiastic young man, who has seen too much and has become desensitized to violence. The Irish Civil War has hardened the sniper's heart and transformed him into a calculating killer. The sniper displays his callous, dangerous personality by shooting and killing an informant as well as a solider in an armored car. The sniper's ability to hit targets from long-range depicts him as an experienced, skillful marksman.
Once the sniper is shot in his forearm, he demonstrates his tough, fearless personality by gritting his teeth, cleaning the wound, and bandaging the area. The sniper also proves that he is skillful, intelligent, and inventive by creating a successful ruse, which fools the enemy sniper and gives him the opportunity to take a clean shot. After the sniper kills his enemy, O'Flaherty writes,
"The lust of battle died in him. He became bitten by remorse. The sweat stood out in beads on his forehead. Weakened by his wound and the long summer day of fasting and watching on the roof, he revolted from the sight of the shattered mass of his dead enemy. His teeth chattered, he began to gibber to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody."
The sniper's response depicts him as a remorseful, guilt-ridden young man, who is sick of violence and destruction. War has traumatized the sniper, who struggles to accept the duality of his human nature. Although the Republican sniper is a compassionate human, he is also a heartless killing machine at times. The war has forced the sniper to remain callous, insensitive, and violent to survive. The sniper has suppressed his humanity, which comes to the surface after killing his enemy, which turns out to be his brother.