Examine the implications of what Liam O'Flaherty suggesting in "The Sniper."

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most profound implications from O'Flaherty's work is the pain that underscores all war, in particular a civil war.  The work is driven by the idea that the modern context of war is one in which soldiers are alienated from their missions of killing.  They are part of a larger machinery of war.  This is something that the sniper recognizes as part of his being.  When his mission is accomplished, he reflects about his own frustration and the helplessness he feels to be a part of a condition of being where his own actions are guided by something larger.  He is incapable of being able to exercise any autonomy, which is why there is nothing but pain and suffering that is a part of the modern war experience.  The sniper does not experience the glory of completing his mission.  He does not experience the triumph of battle. Instead, he recognizes his own futility from an emotional point of view and that he is a part of a larger machinery in which he is simply a part that can be readily replaced.  In recognizing that the sniper's target was his own brother, the pain of modern warfare is evoked and the realistic condition of war is evoked.  This becomes the largest implication of the work, and one that makes the condition of war a grim one.

sn0wfire | Student

War reduces human beings to mere objects. They have no names, no faces. They are targets, nothing more, to be shot at from a distance. To support this theme, OFlaherty refrains from naming any of his characters.
War knows no boundariesage, sex, location, time of day, family ties. The IRA sniper is a young man, and the informer is an old woman. The fighting takes place in the heart of a city after sundown. The IRA sniper unwittingly shoots and kills his own brother.

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The Sniper

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