Who is the antagonist in "The Sniper"?

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I think one can argue that the antagonist of the story is actually the sniper himself and that the story's main conflict is of the character vs. self variety. The climax of the story occurs in the final line, when the sniper turns over the dead body of the man he shot and sees that he has actually killed his very own brother. This is the story's turning point, the moment of the highest tension, and we realize—presumably along with the protagonist—that he has not only been a victim of violence but also that he has been the perpetrator of mortal violence against his own family, making him the antagonist as well. There is no falling action or resolution in the story, probably because the protagonist will never be able to reconcile himself to what he has done; he will feel no resolution to the pain this will cause him.

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Liam O'Flaherty's short story, "The Sniper," is set against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. The internecine conflict split the IRA, pitting proponents of the Irish Free State, who had signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, against the anti-Treaty Republican faction, which refused to accept any form of British dominion.

It focuses on a young Republican sniper perched on a rooftop near the O'Connell Bridge in central Dublin. After he kills a woman spotter and the machine gunner of an approaching armored car, he's badly wounded in the forearm by a bullet from a Free State sniper on the opposite roof.

In serious pain, and now with only one functional arm, the sniper realizes he needs to kill his sharpshooting counterpart just to escape with his life. By means of a ruse which involves dropping his cap and rifle from the roof to fake his death, the sniper dupes his foe into exposing himself. Using his revolver, the sniper takes careful aim, and kills his opponent. Before making his escape from the area, he can't resist a look at the face of the man he has just killed. He turns over the body and sees the face of the story's antagonist, his brother.

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The antagonist of Liam O’Flaherty's short story "The Sniper" is the enemy Free Stater sniper stationed on the opposite rooftop near the O’Connell Bridge. The young Republican sniper is the protagonist of the story trying to outwit and survive the enemy Free Stater sniper. After the Republican sniper is shot in the forearm by the enemy sniper, he tricks the Free Stater sniper by lifting his cap above the parapet, where the enemy sniper can see it. The enemy sniper then shoots the cap off the Republican sniper's rifle and the Republican sniper instantly drops his weapon to make it seem like he is dead. When the enemy sniper believes he has killed the Republican sniper, the protagonist shoots and kills the Free Stater sniper with his pistol. After the Republican sniper climbs down from the roof and looks at the enemy sniper's corpse in the street, he discovers that the Free Stater sniper was his brother. Therefore, the antagonist of the short story is the Republican sniper's brother, who was a Free Stater sniper during the Irish Civil War.

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Liam O'Flaherty's short story "The Sniper" is set on a Dublin rooftop during the Irish Civil War. Republicans are fighting Free Staters in a pitched street battle. The protagonist of the story is a Republican sniper who is positioned on a rooftop not far from the Four Courts government buildings which had been occupied by Republican troops. The protagonist is pitted against his opposite, a sniper for the Free State forces. The Free State sniper is considered the antagonist of the story because he is in direct conflict with the protagonist. When the protagonist reveals himself, he is wounded by the antagonist. Ultimately, however, the Republican sniper is able to trick his enemy into showing himself and then kills the man with one shot from his pistol. At the end of the story, the antagonist is revealed to be the brother of the protagonist.

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Who is the protagonist in "The Sniper?"

The sniper, the only way he's referred to (other than as "the Republican sniper"), is the main character and in that sense, he is the protagonist. The "enemy sniper," as he's referred to is essentially the antagonist. The sniper is essentially alone in this story and this solidifies his characterization as the main character and protagonist. He has to deal with the "enemy sniper," an old woman (the informer), and the enemy soldier in the turret. While "the sniper" is the main character/protagonist and the "enemy sniper" is the antagonist, the concepts of "good guy" and bad guy" are not as clear. This is the Irish Civil War (Republicans versus Free Staters) and is therefore a war of brother against brother. After the sniper kills his enemy, he wonders if he might know his victim. The story ends with this realization: 

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

This can be taken literally or figuratively. Either the sniper killed his actual brother (the common assertion) or he realizes the significance of killing one of his own countrymen, perhaps close to his age. And although in historical retrospect we might say that one side in a civil war was right and the other was wrong, the idea here is that we have two young men killing each other, two men that could very well be brothers. Because they are young men (the sniper has the "face of a student"), they may have been forced to fight and/or they find themselves battling in a war that was instigated by forces larger than themselves. In this case, they both might be considered the "good guys" in that they probably did not choose to find themselves in a situation of brother against brother. 

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Who is the protagonist in The Sniper?

The protagonist of The Sniper is, appropriately, the Sniper.

The Sniper is not given a name, which helps to establish that his identity is "a sniper", and not really an individual with a past. Much of the human element in the story revolves around the fact that this is a civil war, with personal lives and military obligations closely entangled; the Sniper does much to stifle his humanity, but it sneaks through from time to time. Despite his zeal and experience, he is obviously not a professional, at least in part because he takes unnecessary and emotional risks. His edifice momentarily collapses after he kills the Enemy Sniper, and we can imagine that it suffered immensely when he discovered the man's identity.

The Sniper is the protagonist because the story is told from his point of view, and no other character (and there aren't many of them) can be said to be the main personality of the story.

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