What are the similarities and differences between the stories "On the Sidewalk Bleeding" and "The Sniper"?
One of the first and most obvious similarites is that the central character in each selection is a young man. (Andy is sixteen in Sidewalk and the Republican sniper is a "student," suggesting youthfulness.) Additionally, each selection depicts the young men at a pivotal point in their lives. They have both chosen to align themselves to violent factions. Andy joins the Royals (gang), believing that it will give his life purpose and definition. Likewise, the sniper becomes "fanatic(al)" in his views toward the future of Ireland and enlists in the military.
In each story, the narrator's descriptions and comments suggest that the young men are with their decisions to engage in violent lifestyles. However, the plots quickly lead to a reversal of opinions.
Andy is stabbed because he is wearing the purple silk jacket (indicating that he is a Royal). His final wish is to remove the jacket and resume his identity as simply "Andy." Likewise, the sniper cleverly fools his enemy into believing that he has been killed. Then, he decidedly shoots and kills him. However, once he maneuvers himself and is able to view the corpse, he realizes that he has killed his brother. In each instance, the young man regrets his decision and wishes for a different outcome.
One significant difference between the stories is that Andy's gang involvement is illegal, while the sniper is a trained military combatant. In addition, Andy's gang, the Royals, wage war against the Guardians, a rival gang. On the other hand, the sniper is engaged in a civil war, in which the soldiers on both sides belong to the same country.