What are the dilemmas in "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty?

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A dilemma is a situation where an individual must make a difficult choice. Throughout Liam O'Flaherty's classic short story "The Sniper," the unnamed Republican sniper faces several dilemmas. The first dilemma the sniper faces concerns how he can safely enjoy a cigarette without drawing the attention of the enemy sniper stationed on the opposite rooftop. Immediately after lighting the cigarette, the sniper is shot at and ducks to avoid the enemy sniper. The second dilemma the sniper faces is how to recover from being shot in the forearm and survive the difficult situation. The Republican sniper addresses this issue by cleaning the wound with iodine and dressing it. The third dilemma concerns how the Republican sniper will kill the enemy sniper stationed on the opposite rooftop. He solves this dilemma by creating an elaborate ruse, which gives the enemy sniper the false impression of having shot and killed the enemy. The Republican sniper takes advantage of the situation by killing the enemy sniper, who briefly lets his guard down. The fourth dilemma concerns how the Republican sniper will psychologically cope with the extreme violence of war and bloodshed. The fifth dilemma concerns the Republican sniper's reaction to discovering that he killed his brother.

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A dilemma could be defined as a situation which demands a difficult choice. Often, the choice is between two things that are equally undesirable. There are at least three dilemmas in Liam O'Flaherty's short story "The Sniper." The first dilemma leads directly to the second. After spending a long day on a Dublin rooftop watching the streets below, the Republican sniper contemplates the risks of smoking a cigarette. He knows lighting a match may reveal his position to his enemies, but he cannot resist.

Placing a cigarette between his lips he struck a match, inhaled the smoke hurriedly and put out the light. Almost immediately, a bullet flattened itself against the parapet of the roof. The sniper took another whiff and put out the cigarette. Then he swore softly and crawled away to the left.

Having revealed his whereabouts, the sniper's second dilemma involves a plan to kill the enemy sniper who wounds him in the arm. He cannot reveal himself and will not be able to leave the roof until he eliminates the Free State sniper. He devises a "ruse" to draw his opponent into the open by raising his rifle covered with his cap and actually dropping the rifle to the ground. The falling rifle causes the enemy to believe he has been victorious, but, when he shows himself, the Republican sniper kills him with his pistol. The final dilemma occurs when the sniper becomes curious over the identity of his fallen enemy. He thinks he may know the man and is willing to risk his life to find out. Despite being fired at by a hidden machine gun, he safely crawls to the corpse to discover the dead man is his brother.

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