The Sniper – Analysis

October 11, 2017 General Studies

The Sniper is a short story written by Liam O’Flaherty, a novelist and storyteller born in 1896. In his first years he fought in the First World War, he retired because of the hard situations he had to live. Before his war’s recuperation he began participating in the Ireland’s revolution and then the civil war. In 1933 he suffers a mental ill and doctors believe that it was product of his experience in the battle lands. Basing his work on his own life, O’Flaherty has written many short stories in relation to the main topic that characterized his life; the participation in the war.

This short story is about a civil war taking place in Dublin. As the title says, the Sniper is the main character, and is hiding on the rooftop of a building near to O’Connel Bridge. Through the narration, O’ Flaherty makes us feel tension and horror, and from the sentences that he used to described the sniper without saying who is him, he finally reveals the main character. As we said, O’Flaherty uses many ways to reveal the character of the sniper. For example, how the author chooses the words is very effective: “a man who is used to looking at death. This phrase is helpful for the reader because it gives the idea that he may have very cold looking eyes. By using the word looking, it hooks the reader’s attention to the eyes of the sniper. Even though this suggests that the sniper didn’t have problem by killing people, for example, “The sniper looked at his enemy falling and he shuddered. ” This shows that he could kill, although he didn’t enjoy doing it. The word choice in this sentence is very effective and it makes it easy for the reader to imagine how the sniper feels.

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The word shuddered is a very good election because the reader can interpret it like if the sniper watched the body fall in the ground. This phrase reveals more about the character. Also, “He began to gibber to himself, cursing himself, cursing everybody,” proves that the character doesn’t like killing people and he does feel guilty after doing it. Saying that he was cursing everybody means that he can have been forced to do this so he has a lot of anger towards others. The author also describes what happened to the man on the other building whom he had shot: “The body hit the ground with a dull thud”.

In this case, the word thud gives an image of the silence that surrounds the atmosphere, and the only sound heard is the sound of the body touching the ground. The word dull makes us feel that the sound could only be heard in the distance and it was not very loud. Also, this creates the idea of a dead body very heavy and solid lying on the ground. Although the sniper realized that he had killed his enemy, this phrase still creates a very tense atmosphere; because the reader has the image in their mind of a hurt person falling from the rooftop of a building, which is very dramatic.

Finally we can say that the author successfully creates a sense of horror and tension by his clever use of words, which makes it easier for the reader to imagine what is happening in the scene. By doing this, it also shows the effect that killing someone may have on a person. Also, I can say that the ending was very striking: “Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face”, leaving the sense of mystery, and making the reader imagine what may have happened next.


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