An analysis and interpretation of Liam O’Flaherty:”The Sniper”
The short story “The Sniper” is written by Liam O’Flaherty. It was O’Flaherty’s first published work of fiction, written while the civil war was still in progress. It appeared in 1923 in the London publication “The New Leader”.
The short story is told from a 3rd person limited point of view, in which he presents the thoughts of an IRA sniper, only telling us about his experience and knowledge. The thoughts of any other characters are not presented. The IRA sniper is placed near O’Connell Street in Dublin during the first weeks of the Irish Civil War. “Here and there through the city machine guns and rifles broke the silence of the night, spasmodically, like dogs barking on line farms. Republicans and Free Staters were waging civil war” (p.64 ll.2-5). As it is seen in this quote, the civil war was based upon a conflict between supporters and opponents of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The treaty established the Irish Free State as a self-governing dominion in the British Commonwealth of Nations. Liam O’Flaherty himself fought during the Irish Civil War of 1922-1923 as a member of the Irish Republican Army against the new Irish Free State. So, the conflict was basically split into two factions – IRA members and supporters of the Free State - and they fought a civil war. The intention of the Irish Republican Army was to create a fully independent all-Ireland republic, including Northern Ireland. O’Flaherty had also fought in the First World War as an officer in the Irish Guards. His big knowledge of war reflects on his realistic portrait of military combat.
As said earlier, the short story takes place near O’Connell Street in Dublin. It is dusk on a June night after a day of combat. The IRA sniper is laying on a roof-top. Here, he is described: “His face was the face of a student – thin and ascetic, but his eyes had the cold gleam of a fanatic. They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who is used to...