Erin, Vickie, Chris, Michael, Apollobreak Mr. Anderson English I October 18, 2010
The Secret Killer Have you ever faced death and experienced panic? Have you ever walked down a street knowing that any second you will be shot? The sniper in “The Sniper” written by Liam O’Flaherty did. This short story takes place during a civil war in Dublin, Ireland. The main character is a sniper from the Republican army. His family has been split apart by the war, and this sorrow motivated him to become a sniper. The sniper in Liam O'Flaherty’s, “The Sniper” is a ruthless, uncaring, careless yet highly trained, killer. All these traits are shown through his appearance, actions, speech, and other character’s reactions. One way the sniper shows his character is through his actions. He kills without thinking twice. As we can read on (7), “A man’s head and shoulders appeared, looking toward the sniper. The sniper raised his rifle and fired. The head fell heavily on the turret wall,” the sniper is completely ruthless to others. This quote shows how blatantly merciless the sniper is. Secondly he is careless. The sniper lights a cigarette, giving away his position and the element of surprise, which is crucial to snipers.“Placing a cigarette between his lips, he struck a match, inhaled the smoke hurriedly, and put out the light,” (6). this was extremely careless as was “almost immediately a bullet flattened itself against the parapet” (6). Seemingly controversial to this, you can tell that the sniper is highly trained, he didn’t miss a single shot that he fired, (7). He also managed to shoot the head of a man across the street with a common pistol and with one useless arm. He cared more about his mission than personal comfort, “He was eating a sandwich hungrily. He had eaten nothing since morning. He had been too excited to eat,” (6). The sniper is obviously careless, but also dedicates himself to the task set before him. Moreover, his appearance is a piece of evidence that shows us that he is a killer. “His face was the face of a student, thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic. They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who is used to looking at death,” (5). This quote clearly shows that the sniper is a born killer. The man might look normal or even nice from a distance, but anyone can easily tell that he’s not afraid to face death and create it. Murder obviously doesn’t bother him, and he would not hesitate to kill any human being. Further more other people’s reactions show a lot about the sniper. On (6), “She began to talk to the man in the turret of the tank. She was pointing to the roof where the sniper lay. An informer.” Obviously, some people dislike the sniper enough to give away his position. They wouldn’t be concerned if he was captured or even killed. We can see even more of this kind of attitude on (6), “Suddenly from the opposite roof a shot rang out and the sniper dropped his rifle with a curse.” He clearly has enemies that aren’t afraid of getting back at him violently. Enemies that would do anything to get rid of him. We can also learn about the sniper in the one quote we get from him. The quote is, “I’m hit,” (7). The fact that he only says two words at such a shocking moment shows that not only is the sniper tough, but that he’s calm enough not to panic after being shot. Most people even soldiers would become distressed over a shot arm. Based on the sniper’s actions, thoughts, and speech we can tell that he is ruthless and careless yet highly trained. Through his actions and appearance we can see that he is a merciless killer. His speech also shows that he is a tough and calm soldier. He is shown as a man who cares greatly about his job and doesn’t let anything get in the way of his mission. In the process of focusing on his mission, he becomes careless and gives away his position, but even when his cover is blown he perseveres and finishes his job.
Works Cited: Liam O’Flaherty. “The Sniper.” Elements of Literature: Third Course. Ed Kathleen Daniel. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
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