Theme Analysis Essay On The Sniper Book

"The Sniper" by Liam O’Flaherty is a story written in the third person, closely following the viewpoint of a sniper on the Irish Republican side in the Irish Civil War. The narrator, although using the third person, is limited to the sniper's viewpoint and has full access to his thoughts and emotions. 

The theme of the story is only fully revealed with the surprise ending. Through the story we get an increasing sense of the...

"The Sniper" by Liam O’Flaherty is a story written in the third person, closely following the viewpoint of a sniper on the Irish Republican side in the Irish Civil War. The narrator, although using the third person, is limited to the sniper's viewpoint and has full access to his thoughts and emotions. 

The theme of the story is only fully revealed with the surprise ending. Through the story we get an increasing sense of the similarities between the two snipers, the viewpoint character and his enemy. At first, we think that the similarity and even empathy has to do with their identical roles leading to similar ways of thinking and building a bond between the two men. The sniper, after killing his enemy:

revolted from the sight of the shattered mass of his dead enemy. His teeth chattered, he began to gibber to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody.

This suggests that the central theme of the story is the cruelty and senseless violence of civil war. When the sniper shoots from a distance, he can separate himself from this reality, but when he draws physically close to the anonymous "enemy" he can no longer shield himself from its reality. The final revelation of the story makes us realize that people with whom we disagree should not be characterized simply as anonymous "enemies". 

The main theme of the short story “The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty is the dehumanising nature of war. This theme is enhanced through symbols and motifs like the gun, the street and the brother.

Dehumanising nature of war

“The Sniper” shows different aspects related to the dehumanising nature of war. The fact that the characters are both nameless and faceless shows the way war reduces people to objects. The sniper never really sees the people he shoots as human beings...

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Symbolism and Motifs

The story does not appear to be very symbolic at first. The author has a simple style of writing also called “rat-a-tat prose”, with short sentences designed to increase suspense and create a feeling of a beating heart. 

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Message

The author’s message was to draw readers’ attention on the cruelty of war. Even if the narrator adopts the perspective of the sniper and there are no hints to the auctorial voice, we know that Liam O’ Flaherty himself was Irish and lived during Irish Civil War.

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