The Sniper Characters
by Liam O’Flaherty

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The Sniper Characters

(Short Stories for Students)

The Enemy Sniper
The Enemy Sniper is the Sniper’s main opponent in the story. A member of the Free State army, he still shares similarities with the Sniper. The two men are engaged in the same role. The Enemy Sniper, too, is a good shot, enough so that he wins the respect of the Sniper by the end of the story. His physical presence, on a rooftop across the street, further reinforces the idea that he is a mirror image for the Sniper.

The Enemy Sniper wants to kill the Sniper. He appears to have the advantage after shooting and injuring the Sniper. He makes a fatal error, however, when he falls for the Sniper’s ruse. Once he thinks he has killed the other man, the Enemy Sniper stands up on his rooftop, thus making himself a clear mark. The Sniper shoots him, and he falls to the street below, dead. After that, the Sniper—along with the reader—discovers that the two snipers are brothers.

The Old Woman
The Old Woman points out the Sniper’s location on the rooftop to the Soldier in the Turret. The Sniper shoots and kills her.

The Sniper
The Sniper is the main character of the story. This young man is a member of the Republican army and his eyes have “the cold gleam of the fanatic.” A hardened fighter, the Sniper has become a man “used to looking at death.” In his role as a soldier, he functions efficiently and automatically. For instance, when he gets shot, he applies his own field dressing despite the excruciating pain. Only occasionally does he allow himself to make poor decisions, notably when he decides to risk lighting a cigarette, which alerts the enemy soldiers to his location on the roof. He also runs into the street to find out the identity of the Enemy Sniper, drawing machine gun fire upon himself.

The Sniper has been positioned atop a roof in Dublin. His role in the battle is not clear, but the streets of Dublin are awash with fighting, and he likely has been assigned to shoot enemy targets in the streets below. Once the Free State soldiers learn of his presence, the Sniper becomes involved in a standoff with the Enemy Sniper on a rooftop across the street. The Sniper cannot leave his rooftop since the Enemy Sniper has him covered. Nor can he risk staying on the roof until morning, which assuredly would lead to his death at the hands of Free State soldiers. Injured by the Enemy Sniper, the Sniper devises a clever plan to draw fire and make the Enemy Sniper think he is dead. Once his ruse succeeds, the Enemy Sniper lets down his guard and stops keeping his cover, so the Sniper is...

(The entire section is 698 words.)