In "The Sniper," examine the significance of the author not naming the characters in the story.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Sniper" is concerned with illuminating a universal condition of war.  In order to maximize this, O'Flaherty does not use names and specific identities to the characters.  Through this stylistic element, there is a universality that can be seen in the story.  The old woman who is killed in the crossfire could be anyone.  The two snipers are essentially people who are poised against one another in the charged atmosphere of civil war.  There is a universality in such a construction that is enhanced in not naming the characters.  They can apply to any context throughout the world, and not merely Ireland.  Ireland gives context to a universal condition in which people engage in war without reflection of the consequences until it is too late.  

In operating within a universal condition for his characters and their situation, O'Flaherty is able to make war a sad condition that all human beings endure and to which connection can be made.  The dehumanization that war causes is a universal condition that is enhanced by the lack of specific names in "The Sniper."

jmpk2011 | Student

One of the reasons why authors don't name their characters is to allow the readers to imagine themselves in the characters' places.  By leaving the name of the character unknown, the author allows the reader a degree of authorship.