Humanity And Survival In The Sniper By Liam O Faherty

735 Words 3 Pages
War can either tear families apart or bring them together. In the case of one soldier, his character is tested when he must choose between his humanity and survival. He ultimately chooses survival, tearing his family apart in the worst way. However, this eventually changes him for the better. Liam O’ Flaherty expresses this in his short story, “The Sniper” where he uses imagery and setting to convey that survival threatens a soldier’s humanity.
Liam O’ Flaherty uses vivid descriptions of the sniper’s wound and his actions to emphasize his desire to survive. When the enemy shoots the sniper, he “ripped open the sleeve” and “ground his teeth to overcome the pain,” (O’ Flaherty 2). The sniper is obviously not fazed whatsoever by the pain, and
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O’ Flaherty begins the story with “The long June twilight faded into night. Dublin lay enveloped in darkness…” and “Republicans and Free Staters were waging civil war,” (1). This hints that the setting is somewhere in Dublin, Ireland in early June, during the civil war. It provides the reader with details about the setting, and gives insight as to what the story might be about. Employing the civil war as the setting gives O’ Flaherty the opportunity to examine many of the issues that soldiers face during war. Unfortunately, one of them includes possibly losing their humanity. After the sniper shoots his enemy, he grows curious and checks to see who he just killed. The last line of the story states “Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face,” (4). This moment when the sniper finds out that he has just slaughtered his own brother, is when he fully exhausts his humanity. The ironic ending emphasizes the consequences the sniper had for his need to defeat the enemy. When he fired at an old woman who he thought was an informer, and a man who merely looked at him, his humanity was already beginning to be threatened. This surprise ending could not have taken place without having the civil war as a setting. With any other type of war, such as one between two countries, brothers wouldn’t be on two opposing sides, they would likely be fighting together. However, a civil war is between two different sides in one country, and there is a possibility that brothers could be turned against each other. The war setting shows how the sniper’s desire to survive ultimately resulted in him losing his

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