What is the irony in "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty?

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The central irony in "The Sniper" is that the protagonist's enemy, whom he kills, turns out to be his brother.

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The irony is that the sniper kills his own brother. The story is set during the Irish civil war in the 1920's. Each brother has chosen a different side on which to fight. During his battle with an enemy sniper, the author foreshadows the ending by showing how similar each shooter is. Both are good shots and both are on rooftops that are on the same level. Both seem to be experienced riflemen. However, once the sniper has killed his enemy, he begins to change. He looks over the rooftop, sees the people he has killed, and begins to feel sorry for what he has done. He begins to curse at himself and at the war. The irony is made complete when he decides he must see the soldier he has just shot. He risks his life, dodges machine gun fire only to discover that it is brother who is lying dead on the street.

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What is ironic in "The Sniper"?

Having been wounded, the sniper concocts a plan to make his opponent think that he has been killed. He puts his cap on the muzzle of his rifle and shows it above the parapet. A bullet is shot through the center of the cap immediately, and the sniper on the other rooftop, letting his guard down, stands up so that the sniper can get a clear shot at him.

Three distinct ironies arise from this circumstance, the last being by far the greatest. In the first place, the sniper carries through his plan and shoots the man, but he feels none of the elation and relief he might have expected. His success brings him only self-loathing and nausea. The second irony is that the sniper fails to learn from the example of the man he has killed. When he goes down to the street, he relaxes his guard, as he believes that his enemies are dead. He is rapidly corrected by a volley of machine-gun fire.

The final and most important irony comes at the very end of the story. The sniper finds that the man he has regarded as an enemy throughout the conflict is, in fact, his brother. This is a surprise, although it was foreshadowed by his nauseated reaction after shooting the man.

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In Liam O'Flaherty's "The Sniper," how does this story use irony?

Irony is the difference between what one expects to happen and what actually happens. For example, when a fireman's house burns down, this is an example of irony. If a thief's house is robbed, this also is an example of irony.

In Liam O'Flaherty's short story "The Sniper," the major irony is what happens in the story that is totally unexpected by the reader.

The Republican sniper is the man that the author describes, whose progress he follows in detail. The other sniper is considered the enemy sniper. 

O'Flaherty artfully weaves a tale of an IRA sniper in Dublin during the Irish civil wars, around 1922. By providing very little information about the other sniper, the reader concentrates primarily on the actions and reactions of the Republican sniper. He is described as a fanatic. He is filled with excitement, so much so that he didn't eat before he climbed to the roof to watch for Free Staters or sympathizers. He kills a soldier in an armored car, as well as an informant.

It is not until the Republican sniper lights a cigarette that the reader (and the sniper) become aware that there is another sniper nearby. As he feared, the light from the match he ignites promptly draws the attention of an enemy on another roof.

Almost immediately, a bullet flattened itself against the parapet of the roof.

Now begins the cat-and-mouse game between the two men. Both are excellent marksmen. Both are extremely cautious. The enemy sniper even succeeds in hitting the Republican sniper. However, the enemy sniper does not (it would appear) consider that the sniper across the way might play a trick on him. When wounded, the Republican sniper pretends to raise his head over the parapet to draw the enemy's fire. He succeeds, and pretends he has been killed. The enemy sniper exhibits the same curiosity that our sniper will, and very soon: he stands up believing the Republican sniper is dead. Immediately the Republican sniper shoots and kills his foe, who falls to the street below.

Rising, the surviving sniper knows he must get off of the roof before sunup. However, he is also curious about the dead man in the street below.

The plot shift comes so suddenly that the reader has no time to anticipate what lies ahead.

He decided that [the enemy sniper] was a good shot...He wondered if he knew him. Perhaps he had been in his own company before the split in the army.

These sentences operate as foreshadowing, but are effectively camouflaged and swiftly delivered.

Dodging enemy fire, the sniper runs over to the body. While he believes he may know the sniper's identity, he is completely unprepared for what he discovers:

Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother's face.

This, then, is the occurrence of what is totally unexpected—this is the irony.

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