What is the point of view in Liam O'Flaherty's "The Sniper?"  

Liam O'Flaherty's story "The Sniper" is told from a limited third-person point of view. The narrator focuses on the character of the Republican sniper, describing events from his perspective and even entering into his private thoughts and feelings.

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Liam O'Flaherty composes his short story "The Sniper" from the point of view of a third-person narrator. This narrator, however, has a limited perspective, for he looks and speaks through the lens of the Republican sniper who lies on a rooftop waiting for a target.

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Liam O'Flaherty composes his short story "The Sniper" from the point of view of a third-person narrator. This narrator, however, has a limited perspective, for he looks and speaks through the lens of the Republican sniper who lies on a rooftop waiting for a target.

It is through the eyes of the sniper that we watch the action unfold. The narrator tells us what the sniper feels: hungry for instance, desirous of a cigarette, and, later, in pain when he is hit by a bullet from another sniper. The narrator also tells us what the sniper sees as the armored car pulls up and the woman (an informant) speaks with a man from the car. The sniper kills them both, and we watch him do so, for again, the narrator focuses in on the sniper.

As the story continues, the narrator also continues to focus in on the sniper, describing how he tends his injury and what he feels while doing so. Then we listen as the narrator explains the sniper's plan to catch his fellow sniper. The plan is successful. The other sniper, thinking that his Republican counterpart is dead, dares to look out, and the Republican sniper kills him immediately.

Then the narrator details the sniper's reaction to his "victory." At first, he yells for joy, but then the "lust of battle died in him" and he feels remorse. He is revolted by what he has done, and he curses. Notice how the narrator has access to the sniper's innermost thoughts and feelings here. Yet the narrator does not provide a description of anything the sniper feels or does when he looks at the body of the dead sniper and realizes that the man is his own brother. We readers are left to imagine that for ourselves.

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Liam O’Flaherty's short story "The Sniper" is written in the third-person limited point of view, which is when the narrator only knows or expresses the thoughts and feelings of one character. In third-person limited narration, only one character is closely followed, and every character is described using third-person pronouns. In the short story, the Republican sniper is the main character, and Liam O'Flaherty uses the third-person pronouns "he," "she," and "his." O'Flaherty wants the audience to focus specifically on the viewpoint of the Republican sniper as he attempts to outwit the enemy sniper stationed on the adjacent rooftop. The author also does not want the reader to discover that the enemy sniper is the Republican sniper's brother until the end of the story, when the sniper rolls the man's corpse over, which is why third-person limited narration is ideal for suspenseful short stories. Third-person limited narration gives the author more freedom and flexibility than first-person narration, which is when the narrator tells the story from the point of view of only one character and uses the personal pronouns "I" and "we."

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The point of view in this story is the third person point of view. Simple clues to that point of view are the pronouns that are used in the story. Words like "he" and "she" are often good indicators of third person narration. The story is about a sniper, and the narration continually refers to the sniper using "he" and "him."

He was eating a sandwich hungrily. He had eaten nothing since morning. He had been too excited to eat. He finished the sandwich, and, taking a flask of whiskey from his pocket, he took a short drought. 

If the story was told in first person, readers would be reading the narration from the sniper's perspective, and we would be reading sentences that use "I" to refer to the sniper.

Despite being a third person narration, the story is very much limited to the sniper's perspective. This is called a third person limited point of view. An omniscient point of view would give readers the thoughts of every character in the story, but that doesn't happen. We never know what is going on inside the mind of the old woman, the enemy soldier, or the Free Stater sniper. The limited narrative point of view helps tie readers to the emotions of the Republican sniper. It also lets readers view the enemies as exactly that. They are faceless and nameless enemies. They are targets to be shot and killed. An omniscient narration would have ruined that because readers might be saddened when the "enemy" sniper is killed.

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Liam O'Flaherty's short story, "The Sniper," is written using a third person limited narrator. A third person limited narrator is very different from a third person omniscient narrator. A third person omniscient narrator knows everything about every character depicted in the story. On the other hand, a third person limited narrator only knows everything about one character (typically the protagonist). A third person narrator does not have a part in the text either; he or she is only relaying the story for the reader.

The importance of the third person limited narrator in O'Flaherty's story lies in the ending. Over the course of the text, readers come to know the sniper relatively well. They come to identify him as disciplined, hardened by war, and very good at his job. If a third person omniscient narrator would have been used, readers would have known (dramatic irony) about the identity of the other sniper (the protagonist's brother). This would have ruined the surprise for both the reader and the sniper himself. Given the emotional detachment of the narrator, the shock of the ending proves surprising.

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