go throughLiam O'Flaherty (1897-1984)
Approximate word count: 1619
TonThe long June twilight faded into the night. Dublin was shrouded in darkness, save for the faint light of the moon that filtered in through the fluffy clouds, casting a pale glow on the streets and on the dark water of the Liffey, as if dawn was approaching. Around the four courtyards under siege, heavy artillery roared. Machine guns and rifles broke the silence of the night all over the city, intermittently, like dogs barking on a lonely farm. Republicans and Free States are waging a civil war.
A Republican sniper looks on on a rooftop near the O'Connell Bridge. He had his rifle by his side and a pair of field glasses slung over his shoulder. His face was that of a schoolboy, thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of a fanatic. Those eyes were deep and thoughtful, like the eyes of someone who is used to seeing death.
He was hungry for a sandwich. He hasn't eaten since morning. He was too excited to eat. He finished his sandwich, took a bottle of whiskey from his pocket, and took a sip. Then he put the flask back in his pocket. He paused for a moment, considering whether he should risk a cigarette. It's dangerous. Flashes of light may be seen in the dark, and enemies are watching. He decided to take the risk.
He held the cigarette between his lips, struck a match, took a quick drag, and turned off the light. Almost at the same time, a bullet landed on the roof railing. The sniper took another drag and extinguished the cigarette. Then he cursed softly, and crawled away to the left.
He stood up cautiously and peered over the rail. A flash, a bullet whizzed past his head. He collapsed immediately. He saw the flash. It's from across the street.
He climbed over the roof to the rear chimney and rose behind it slowly until his eyes were level with the top of the railing. There was nothing to be seen—only the vague outlines of roofs against the blue sky. His enemies are under cover.
Just then, an armored vehicle drove across the bridge and moved slowly down the street. It stopped on the opposite side of the street, fifty yards ahead. The snipers could hear the dull panting of the motor. His heart beat faster. It was an enemy car. He wanted to fire, but he knew it was useless. His bullets would never penetrate the steel covering the gray monster.
Then at the corner of a side street came an old woman with a ragged shawl over her head. She started talking to the people in the car turret. She pointed to the roof where the sniper was. informer.
The turret opened. A man's head and shoulders emerged, watching the sniper. The sniper raised his rifle and fired. The head landed heavily on the turret wall. The woman rushed to the side street. The snipers fired again. The woman turned around and fell into the gutter screaming.
Suddenly there was a shot from the opposite roof, and the sniper lowered his rifle, cursing. The rifle fell to the roof with a clatter. The snipers thought the noise would wake the dead. He bent down and picked up his rifle. He couldn't lift it. His forearm was dead. "I was hit," he murmured.
He lay flat on the roof and climbed back to the railing. He touched his injured right forearm with his left hand. Blood oozed from the sleeve of his coat. There was no pain - just a numbness, as if the arm had been severed.
Quickly he drew a knife from his pocket, slashed across the breast of the parapet, and tore open the sleeve. There is a small hole where the bullet entered. There is no hole on the other side. The bullet lodged in the bone. It must be broken. He flexed his arm just below the wound. The armrests come back easily. He gritted his teeth to overcome the pain.
Then he took out his field dressing and tore open the package with a knife. He broke the neck of the iodine bottle and let the bitter liquid drip into the wound. A sharp pain swept through his whole body. He puts cotton wool over the wound and wraps the dressing over it. He fastened the ends with his teeth.
He then lay motionless against the railing, eyes closed, and struggled with the pain.
In the streets below, everything was still. The armored vehicles retreated quickly across the bridge, the heads of the machine gunners hanging lifelessly over the turrets. The woman's body lay quietly in the gutter.
The sniper lay for a long time, nursing his wounded arm, trying to escape. He must not be found wounded on the roof in the morning. The enemy on the opposite roof covered his escape. He has to kill that enemy, but he can't use his rifle. He only has one pistol to do that. Then he thought of a plan.
He took off his cap and put it on the muzzle of his rifle. Then he slowly pushed the rifle up the parapet until the hat was visible from across the street. Almost immediately there was a loud bang and a bullet pierced the center of the hat. The sniper tilts his rifle forward. The hat falls into the street. The sniper then grabbed the rifle from the middle, hanging lifelessly in the air with his left hand draped over the roof. Moments later, he let the rifle drop into the street. Then he sank to the roof, dragging his hands.
He got up quickly and looked up at the corner of the roof. His trick worked. Another sniper saw the hood and rifle drop and thought he had killed his man. He was now standing in front of a row of chimneys, looking across the way, his head clearly visible against the western sky.
The Republican sniper smiled and raised his revolver over the edge of the parapet. It was about fifty yards away—a reshot in the dim light, and his right arm ached like a thousand devils. He took aim. His hands trembled with eagerness. He pressed his lips together, took a deep breath through his nostrils, and fired. He was reported nearly deaf, his arms shaking from the recoil.
Then as the smoke cleared, he gazed across and let out a cry of delight. His enemy was hit. He struggled in the throes of death. He struggled to get his footing, but slowly fell forward as if in a dream. The rifle fell from his hand, hit the railing, fell, bounced off the barbershop post below, and fell with a thud to the sidewalk.
Then the dying man on the roof collapsed to the ground, falling forward. The body turned over in the air and hit the ground heavily. Then lie still.
Looking at the fallen enemy, the sniper couldn't help but shudder. The desire to fight was gone in him. He was bitten by regret. The sweat on his forehead was conspicuous like beads. Weakened by his wounds and the long summers of fasting and observing on rooftops, he was disgusted at the sight of the shattered bodies of his dead enemies. His teeth chattered and he began to babble to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everyone.
He looked at the smoking revolver in his hand and swore to throw it on the roof at his feet. There was a concussion from the revolver, and bullets whizzed past the sniper's head. He snapped back from the shock. His nerves stabilized. The cloud of fear lifted from his mind, and he smiled.
He took the whiskey bottle out of his pocket and emptied it. Under the influence of the spirit, he feels reckless. He decided to get off the roof now and report to his company commander. There was silence all around. There is not much danger in crossing the street. He picked up the revolver and put it in his pocket. He then climbed through the skylight into the house below.
When the sniper reached the laneway in the street, he suddenly became curious about the identity of the enemy sniper he had killed. He thinks he's a good shooter, no matter who he is. He wondered if he knew him. Maybe he was in his own company until the army split. He decided to venture over there to see him. He peered down O'Connell Street from the corner. There was a lot of gunfire in the upper part of the street, but there was silence.
Snipers charged through the streets. A machine gun rained bullets on the ground around him, but he escaped. He lay face down next to the body. The machine guns stopped.
The sniper then turned the body over and looked at his brother's face.
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What are some study questions in the sniper short story? ›
- What time of day is the story set?
- Where does the action take place?
- What are the names of the two sides?
- What side is the protagonist on?
- Why hadn't the sniper eaten since morning?
- What risk does the sniper decide to take?
- What pulls up in front of the building?
“The Sniper" is a war story, and it explores questions of violence and enmity and how they affect the people who participate in and are caught up in the war. The Republican sniper kills three people over the course of the story: the man in the armored car, the old woman, and the enemy sniper.What is the resolution of the short story the sniper? ›
The Resolution would be that while he is going down stairs and roofs it that a machine gun has come out of nowhere and starts shooting him. The denouement is that when he gets to the person and turns him over on his back from his belly is that the sniper finds out that he just shot his brother.What is the message of the sniper Liam O Flaherty? ›
In the short story The Sniper by Liam O'Flaherty, a main theme is that war is cruel. This is supported by many details within the story. War makes people do things that they normally wouldn't do, mostly because it is their duty to protect what they believe in or their country.What is the internal conflict in the sniper short story? ›
In 'The Sniper,' the internal conflict occurs when the sniper reacts emotionally to killing the opposing sniper. The sniper watches his enemy fall and ''revolted at the sight of the shattered mass of his dead enemy.What is the situational irony in the short story the sniper? ›
In the short story "The Sniper" by Liam O'Flaherty, there is an example of situational irony when the finds out that the man he killed was his brother. This is situational irony, because he was fighting to kill the enemy siniper, and afterwards remorse compelled him to look and see who it was that he killed.What is the moral dilemma in the sniper? ›
In The Sniper, the dilemma the sniper faces when trying to shoot at the other sniper is twofold: he is injured and he can no longer use his rifle. Because the other sniper knows his location, the sniper knows he ''must kill that enemy'' in order to escape.What does the brother symbolize in the sniper? ›
When the Republican sniper turns over the body of the enemy sniper, he “looked into his brother's face.” We may read this both as a literal fact—the sniper has killed his brother—but also as a symbolic representation of what happens in a civil war: the dead “brother” is both a part of the sniper's nuclear family as ...What does the sniper symbolize in the sniper? ›
The revolver represents destruction and loss of self. As the sniper released the bullet, he released his inhibitions, thoughts and emotions. They seize to exist, like the bullet that was once in the revolver. The bullet dwells the sniper into a state of bitterness and sorrow, growing pure hatred for himself.What is the resolution in the plot of the short story? ›
Resolution. The resolution is the end of the story. It occurs after the CLIMAX. It is when you learn what happens to the characters after the CONFLICT is resolved.
How does the sniper feel at the end of the story? ›
In 'The Sniper', the Republican sniper feels regret for killing the enemy sniper because the man had noticeable talent. For the sniper, his enemy's death is nothing but a waste. He wishes that he had not been placed in the situation where he was forced to choose between his own life and the life of a stranger.What are the three topics of the sniper? ›
- Loyalty (to family or government)
- Life or death.
- Kill or be killed.
In 'The Sniper,' the conflict faced by the protagonist is an external conflict of man versus man. Because of his own risk-taking in lighting a cigarette, the sniper compromises his position and finds himself under fire from the enemy sniper.What are the short story elements of the sniper? ›
The elements are Plot, Characterization, Point of View, Setting, and Theme. “The Sniper” contains all the parts as I have explained which is why I would consider “The Sniper” to be a very good story.