The first featured short story I would be talking about is one of my favorite. It's called "The Sniper" by an Irish writer named Liam O'Flaherty. "The Sniper" was published on January 12th, 1923 in a British Socialist newspaper called "The New Leader." O'Flaherty had written this story during the early weeks of the Irish Civil War depicting the battle taking place in Dublin. Before I get talking about the story itself, if you haven't read the story and want to read it yourself first you can read it here at the "Classic Short Stories."
The story follows along with a Republican man during the Irish Civil war. He is a sniper located on top of a rooftop near the O'Connell Bridge and it takes place during nightfall in Dublin. O'Flaherty does a great job at building up tension along the way. The readers gets to learn a little about the main character and learns that his age range was of a young teenager about 16-23 years old. In which I thought ages 16-18 was such a young age to be fighting in a war. We also get to learn that this is nothing new to the sniper so we can assume he had been fighting since the beginning of the war because this story does take place in the early weeks of the civil war. For example, "...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." This insert from the story shows readers that the man is used to seeing death. It is nothing new to him. He seems experienced with war and killing with a rifle so killing again is not surprising to him anymore. It has become a normal thing for the young sniper.
Next, the story goes on and talks about the risk of being a sniper. He has to be careful of what he does because a slight error could blow his cover if he does anything reckless. For example lighting a cigarette. The flash of his lighter could show enemies his position and therefore his cover would be blown. Despite all the risky calculations he did, he decided to light a cigarette anyways and I thought it was such a foolish thing to do. If I was a sniper or soldier risking my life in a war, I wouldn't be smoking a cigarette knowing I could be killed if someone finds my location. I would be too afraid to even breathe. What do you guys think about the sniper's action of lighting a cigarette? Remember, this takes place at night so the light from the lighter would be easy to spot. Would you take the risk and light the cigarette anyways? Leave your comments below.
After the sniper had lit his cigarette, it was just seconds after taking a puff that he hears a bullet hit the roof where he was hiding. So his decision of lighting the cigarette wasn't such a great idea after all. He gets shot in the arm and had to address his wound. So far his life seems a little on the down side because he was reckless with his decision to take a puff knowing the risk of doing so. Eventually the shots quite down a little and the story goes on before the two snipers go at it again firing at each other until one man is down.
After winning the battle between snipers, curiosity struck the sniper and he wanted to get a look at the enemy sniper's face. He praised the other sniper and thought that the man was a great shot. He wondered if he knew the man before the army had split. Taking the risk, he went to see who the other sniper was only to find out that it was his very own brother.
The plot-twist at the end of this story was what struck me the most and is probably the only reason why I love this short story so much. I don't know what is worst, knowing you killed your brother or knowing your brother was on the enemy side? What do you guys think? I feel like killing my own brother would be the worst feeling ever. I cannot live knowing I killed my own sibling, unless the circumstances require me to do so, but I cannot see myself killing any of my siblings. I mean, yes, the sniper did have a good reason to say that it was self-defense but if he had known it was his brother I don't think he would have killed his brother.
With this kind of ending, it brings a lot of debate about war. I think Liam O'Flaherty's story, "The Sniper," shows how war separates friends and family with different ideals. It shows how friends and families are fighting each other during civil wars. It also shows how much pain it can create to the people involved in the war. What do you guys think about war? How do you see war as? A way to solve problems or is it just creating more problems? Should innocent people be involved in wars or should the leaders on opposite sides just debate and fight it all out just with themselves and not involve other people?
Comment below on what your thoughts are about this short story by Liam O'Flaherty and its depiction of war. If you have any stories you want me to read and do a little review on, you can use the contact page to contact me.
Reviewed by: Yer Vang
*You can check out this review also at my personal blog Dream Fantasy Magnolia*
Published by Yer Vang