The Sniper Questions and Answers
by Liam O’Flaherty

The Sniper book cover
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What is the symbol for "The Sniper"?  

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I must admit, when I first saw this question I was struggling to think of what symbols there are in this short story. However, we need to remember that symbols are defined as objects, characters or actions that stand for both their literal meaning and a wider, more general meaning. If we remember this then I think you can safely argue that the sniper's action in shooting his brother is a symbol of the strife, division and pain that civil war brings. We need to remember the context in which the story was written. The story is set in Dublin, Ireland in the 1920s, during a time of bitter civil war. Like all civil wars, this one tore families apart. It pitted children against parents, sister against sister, and of course, brother against brother. It thus seems entirely fitting that Liam O'Flaherty should write a story that exposes the true horror and pain of civil war encapsulated symbolically in one brother unknowingly shooting his other brother in a rooftop duel.

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