The Sniper Questions and Answers
by Liam O’Flaherty

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What events build up the tension in the story "The Sniper"?

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In the short story "The Sniper" many events build tension.  The title itself is a means of tension as a sniper is an expert marksman who is able to kill others while staying alive himself.  Gradually you find out that this is in a war where families are often pitted against each other.  The sniper reveals that he is on a rooftop, and that another sniper knows he is there.  He must figure out a means of killing the other man without revealing his own position.  To make matters worse, dawn is beginning to come and he will be visible. Each of these create tension as the sniper wants to live.  So begins the cat and mouse strategy to get the other sniper to commit to a movement on the roof.  When the old woman points him out, he kills her and the soldier with her.  In the exchange, the other sniper wings him in the arm.  Pretending that he is dead, the other sniper lets down his guard, stands up, and is killed by the sniper's hand gun.  All of these events build tension as you don't know who will survive until now.  The final act is for the sniper to turn over the body of the man he has killed only to find his own brother.  This horror creates even more tension.  And yet, the war goes on.

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