Discuss how "The Sniper" portrays the horror of war and the ambiguity of the enemy.

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"The Sniper" is a short story about the Irish Civil War, fought between Irish Separatists and those loyal to the British (via the Anglo-Irish treaty). The first major theme in this story is that war is such a violent, horrifying event that it can turn a "student, thin and ascetic," into a killer. It is supposed that the sniper was a young student when he began fighting in the war. During the course of his fighting, he has become a calculating killer. Moments of his humanity surface, notably when he sees his opponent fall from the roof.

The lust of battle died in him. He became bitten by remorse. The sweat stood out in beads on his forehead. Weakened by his wound and the long summer day of fasting and watching on the roof, he revolted from the sight of the shattered mass of his dead enemy.

However, the next bullet and a drink from his whiskey flask sends him back into that reckless soldier's mentality. The sniper is trying to keep himself desensitized so that he will be able to carry out his work as a soldier. The horror of war is expressed by this first event: turning an innocent young man into a killer. The insanity of war is expressed with even greater significance when the sniper looks at his enemy's dead body and sees "his brother's face."

Because this is a civil war, the idea of fighting one's brother could be as literal as it is metaphoric. Going by the metaphor, any war is fought between brothers because we all share a common humanity.

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"The Sniper," by Liam O'Flaherty, brings out the horror of war where one does not know who the enemy is. Elaborate and explain.

Liam O'Flaherty's short story "The Sniper" is one in which a Republican sniper must "take out" an enemy sniper. This sniper  is perched on a rooftop across form him. In the end, the Republican sniper proves himself to be worthy of his position--he is able to kill the opposing sniper. When the Republican sniper checks on the identity of his victim, he finds that it is his brother.

Essentially, the story tells about a soldier who is defined by his position. He is a sniper and will do whatever it takes for success. The brutal truth is that people around him are dying. Not only do many people die in front of him, he kills his own flesh and blood.

The horror of war is that, when one looks at the bottom of it, people are killed. The sniper does not think about the person he is aiming at. According to the story, the only reason he wishes to know who the man is results from his thoughts that he may know the man. Unfortunately, the sniper did know the man.

This idea, and image, has been seen many times throughout history. The Civil War in America placed father against father and brother against brother. The horror of war, in the end, is that mankind is eliminating the chance for humanity to continue, for bloodlines to continue. Not knowing who the enemy is, getting the enemy in one's sights, and pulling the trigger is normally done not knowing the person on the other side of the gun. It is not until one recognizes the fact that they could begin to question what they are doing.

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