The Sniper

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2001

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The Sniper A civil war is raging in the heart of Ireland. Countrymen fighting countrymen, and amongst them a lone republican sniper sits, and waits. In the short story "The Sniper" Liam O'Flaherty takes the reader into the life of one inparticular soldier. A sniper who lives for death"¦ An all around cold blooded killer in his mind, his eyes, and his experience. Look closer at this sadistic killer and see what it means to be a true cold blooded killer.

When reading the story "The Sniper" many characteristics of the republican sniper stand out. It almost seems to the reader that the snipers mind has been severely warped in several ways. "He wanted to fire but he knew it was useless." The story reads that as the armored turret car approached he wanted to shoot it. Even though he thought it through and realized that shooting would do no good his first reaction, his "instinct" was to shoot.

This displays a mindset of some one who has almost a need for death and destruction. Where usually a man in that position will first think of how he can avoid the massive threat without conflict.

A person killing another person is a tragic event. It becomes even more horrific when there is pleasure taken. In the case of the republican sniper more than pleasure is taken. ""¦He peered across and uttered a cry of joy. His enemy had been hit." Joy: A strong feeling of happiness; gladness. Not just happy or pleased but a strong emotion of happiness. Probably the last thing on most peoples minds when they havethey just shot a man in cold blood. Maybe thankful that they are still alive, but not joyful.

In a war between two forces conflict is inevitable. If an enemy is in your sights, you do what you can to eliminate him. This is quite normal, but in this story when conflict arises not only do enemies become targets but innocent civilians as well. "The sniper fired again. The woman whirled round into the gutter with a shriek." An old woman is dead. Simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No weapons or anything, yet she had to die. The sniper shot the turret man and the old woman within an instant of each other. No room for hesitation, as if he had a starving hunger"¦ a hunger for death. This also shows a warped mindset and a disturbing lack of morals.

A dead body no matter what the circumstances are, is a truly a disgusting sight. ""¦ He felt a sudden curiosity of to the identity of the enemy sniper he had killed." Here he gets the sudden urge to identify his victim, but why? He just killed three people and yet he wants to stick around and survey the horror that had just created? Most people would rather get the heck out of there and forget all about what had happened.But he would rather find out whom he had killed so he would have something to remember it by. This is not normal or right. As was said before killing another human being is a tragic event. So why would one want to remember something that is as horrific as three deaths? It is quite possible he likes death, which in this case seams to fit with his recent behavior.

Facial expression and more specifically eyes can show a lot about a person. Even before striking up a conversation with a person you can tell their emotions, whether something is wrong etc. from different facial expressions. In movies you can always tell who the villain is before he says a word. ""¦His eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic. They were deep and thoughtful, the eyes of a man who was used to looking at death." These two sentences describe so much about the sniper. It shows how he is a fanatic. A fanatic for death? It shows how intense the situation was for him. Also it shows quite boldly that he has seen death many times before. So what does this all add up to? Just in his eyes it is apparent that he's looking forward to killing.

Anyone can kill another person; it's just a matter of doing it well. You can fire all day at person and still not hit him. The fact of the matter is that you need to have some kind of experience to kill two armed soldiers, one in an armored vehicle. "The turret opened. A mans head and shoulders appeared, looking towards the sniper. The sniper raised his rifle and fired. The head fell heavily on the turret wall." It seems that this isn't the fist time he has hit a small target from a fair distance away. The sniper has done this many times before, and the precise shot shows this. He's no beginner. He's killed before.

Picture yourself as this sniper, on top of a building, and you've just been shot in your forearm. You rely on your aim and swift movements to destroy your opponent. All of your skills have been maimed quite badly and your opponent is in perfect physical condition. Now what do you do? In amazing circumstances the republican sniper manages to think up a plan to kill his enemy. Realizing that the other sniper has a physical advantage he knows he has to out smart him or trick him. He leads him to thinking that he is dead and while he has his back turned he now possesses the advantage. This leads to thinking that he has been in such tight situations before, making him experienced in this area.

In all the examples the sniper has displayed a way of thinking that is one of a sadistic killer. His eyes were fanatical and used to seeing death. His experience shown was of a soldier that had killed before. All of these add up to a number of things. First of all a warped mindset and lack of morals. He has seen death many times, meaning that he had killed before, and his eyes were fanatical about something. And this certainly wasn't the first time he had killed a man he had good experience on that. Mainly the undeniable fact that this man was a true cold blooded killer.