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The main theme of "The Sniper" is the tragedy of warfare. This story is about the Irish Civil War, so it makes a more specific comment on war by showing how soldiers can become desensitized to violence and, in turn, how nations can except war as a rational solution. At the end of the story, the protagonist approaches the man he's just killed, turns him over and "looked into his brother's face." Civil wars have often been described as "brother against brother." This could imply that actual brothers can fight on opposing sides of the war, but it also could imply that citizens of the same country are symbolically brothers, stating that any civil war is violence against one's own family. Taking this a step further, any war at all is violence against one's own species. Taken quite literally, any war is violence against your own kind. When the protagonist sees "his brother's face," this might be a moment when he once again becomes sensitized to death.
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