What details does the writer include to make the sniper more realistic?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Sniper," the use of physical details makes the titular character more realistic.

O'Flaherty uses physical details to help the reader envision the sniper.  The opening description of the sniper is that his eyes feature "the cold gleam of the fanatic."  The sniper is realistically depicted in how he peers over his rifle. O'Flaherty describes the sniper's hunger in how he eats his sandwich.  He also enhances his nervousness in how he smoked his cigarette "hurriedly."  Such physical details make the sniper a real person in the reader's mind.

These physical details are consistent throughout the story.  They add depth to his characterization when O'Flaherty describes what happens when his mission is accomplished.  The "lust of battle" has faded within the sniper.  He had become "bitten by remorse."  The "sweat stood out in beats on his forehead." We also see the physical toll that the mission has taken on the sniper when he was "weakened by his wound."  When the sniper's "teeth chattered" and when he "began to gibber at himself," the sniper is realistically constructed.  The added detail of the sniper cursing himself and the world makes us realize how traumatic war is on both the perpetrators and victims.  These details show the sniper in a more realistic manner.