What message about the civil war is Liam O'Flaherty trying to convey?

Expert Answers
beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Liam O'Flaherty's short story, "The Sniper" he conveys the message that war, especially civil war, can divide not only countries but it can also tear apart families in horrific ways. After experiencing the gun fight between two men on opposite sides of civil war in Ireland the reader arrives at the last line; the line of the short story when the sniper creeps up to see who he killed. “Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother's face." The message of this story can be applied to any civil war when family members are often pitted against other family members under the guise of fighting for their country, or their country divided. War can create unfathomable misery.

Realistically and metaphorically, when the sniper sees "his brother's face" the reader feels the repulsion that the sniper feels even though we know it was his brother who shot him in the arm. But it can be argued that all men are brothers therefore anytime a soldier kills another man, he is killing his brother. The author conveys the message that is no way to escape the horrific emotions surrounding the taking of another's life, even during war.