What does “His eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic. They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man used to looking at death” suggest to us about the character in “The Sniper”?

In saying that he is a “fanatic” and “thoughtful,” this description of the protagonist in “The Sniper” indicates that he is both irrational and logical. In addition, the fact that he is “used to looking at death” implies that he accepts the risk of his own death and may be willing to kill someone else. The emphasis on his eyes corresponds to his function as a sharpshooter.

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Author Liam O’Flaherty’s description of the protagonist of “The Sniper” establishes him as a complex character whose experience in a violent environment has prepared him for the task he is about to undertake. In focusing on the character’s eyes, the narrator compels the reader to imagine they are looking directly into these “deep” eyes. The narrator juxtaposes different emotional connotations to convey the sniper’s complexity. He is both a “fanatic” and a “thoughtful” person. The phrase “cold gleam” evokes ice, conveying that the sniper is both composed and excited. A word from the preceding phrase, “ascetic,” usually refers to a spiritual seeker, such as a monk, who lives quite simply.

Despite being called a fanatic, however, the description does not imply that he would not be rash or hasty. He seems to be accustomed to the consequences of war: he is “used to looking at death.” The emphasis on “looking” again encourages the reader to picture this character. The circumstances of this “death” are not given. Getting used to death could come from working with animals, such as in a slaughterhouse, or with humans as a doctor or even a mortician. If an environment where death is normal is what the man is accustomed to, then he will likely know what he is risking through his intended actions, along with accepting the consequences for his target.

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