The narrator in the story calls the sniper “young”, “ascetic” and “fanatic” in the
exposition. He is a soldier who has to carry out his orders of killing his enemies
in cold blood, without any feelings of guilt or remorse. To show pain is
forbidden. The sniper plans his actions minutely and is presented by the narrator
as a watchful and diligent observer of the opponents´ next steps.
Being very courageous and obedient, he takes his own death into account in
order to fulfil his tasks. After being hit by the enemy sniper, he has to think of a
trick to be successful at last. Consequently, feelings of superiority are coming
up, he can smile again (l. 69), is eager to kill the other sniper (l. 72) and utters “a
cry of joy” (l. 76f) after his success.
Yet after that immediate experience of death he shudders, has lost all the
eagerness for another fight, and is “bitten by remorse” (l. 84f). At the end of this
inner process of revolt (l. 87) the protagonist´s conscience wins, he regrets being
involved in that war (“cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody” (l.
89f.)) and feels guilty. The author O´Flaherty has the sniper look into his
brother´s face at the end of the story which is certainly the most effective ending
you can imagine.