The Sniper Questions and Answers
by Liam O’Flaherty

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What social themes have been shown in "The Sniper?"  

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In the short story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty, several themes are shown.  Through O' Flahery's own experience of war during the Irish civil war of the 1920's, he brings in the themes of war and its devastation and division of a society, the isolation and changes in the people involved in the war, and the survival mode of all the participants which can be devastating.  O'Flaherty believed that the civil war in Ireland had wrought great divisions in Irish society which he shows with the sniper killing his own brother.  The isolation and changes in the people he shows with the sniper on the rooftop, pinned down with a desperate need to get off the roof before morning as he would then be a sitting duck to be killed, and describes the sniper using the word ascetic which implies student who has now become a battle hardened veteran of war.  The survival theme is best expressed in the vicious circle the sniper goes through with the fear, the determination, the elation of the kill, climbing down from the roof ready to resume the war.  It is only when he looks at the face of his brother that he is jarred from survival mode.

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