The Sniper

Read “The Sniper,” by Liam O’Flaherty.

Respond to the Story

  • Reread the first paragraph. What details in the author’s description of the setting establish the tone or atmosphere of the story?
  • What message about this civil war is Liam O’Flaherty trying to convey? How does his message compare to the theme in “War,” by Timothy Findley?
  • List words and phrases the author uses to describe the sniper and what he is doing. Write your own descriptions of him, using some or all of these words.
  • The sniper is the only character the author describes in great detail. Why do you think the author chose to do that?
  • Were you surprised by the ending? Why or why not? Did you find it a powerful ending?
  • Do you think such a story could occur in Canada? Give reasons for your opinion.

Write a Factual Report
Imagine you are the main character in “The Sniper.” You’ve just returned to your company and have been asked to write a report about what happened. List the events in the story in the order they occurred. Use a complete sentence for each event. Because this is an official report, leave out how you feel or what you thought–just include the facts as you saw them.

Essay Topics

  • After researching the life of Liam O’Flaherty, write an informative essay explaining the extent to which he based “The Sniper” on his own experiences.
  • Does urban warfare, like that in “The Sniper,” affect the outlook and mental stability of combatants differently than battlefield fighting?
  • Is modern Ireland still influenced by the outcome of the violence in the early 1920s?
  • In an informative essay, write a short psychological profile the IRA sniper.
  • Can the tactics of urban guerrillas–sniping, sabotage, terrorist bombings–be morally justified?

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Original post by Mr. D. Sader

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