Importance of Point of View in "The Sniper"

*Spoilers* This is an academic paper and gives away much of the story, please read "The Sniper" before you read the following.

A brother can be someone close to you, your equal, a fellow human, or

your relative. "The Sniper", by Liam O'Flaherty, uses point of view with

other elements of fiction to send a message to the reader. The theme of

"The Sniper" is that war divides us, all of us are brothers, and brothers

are killed in war. Through the author's use of the third person limited

point of view allows the reader to find the theme of "The Sniper" through

characterization, conflict, and setting.

Characterization, an important element in the story, is used to allow

the reader to identify with the sniper through the third person limited

point of view. An obvious piece of characterization, the sniper's name, is

left out of the story to help the reader understand the theme. ". a

Republican sniper lay watching." Without a name, the sniper could be

someone the reader knows or is close to. Another piece of characterization

that is left out is that the sniper has a brother, who is also of fighting

age with similar skills. Without this knowledge, the fact that the sniper

might actually be shooting at his own brother never even enters the mind of

the reader, making the ending even more shocking and enlightening. In war

brothers get killed, and everyone is a brother of sorts.

Another important element of fiction used in "The Sniper" is

conflict. Because of the point of view, the reader is with the sniper

throughout the entire story and knows that the sniper has two incidents in

which he is forced to kill the enemy. In the first incident "The sniper

raised his rifle and fired. The sniper fired again." His movement was quick

and expert; he did not need to think about what he was doing as he did his

job. The second time, the sniper knew that he ".must kill that enemy and he

could not use his rifle. He had only a revolver to do it. Then he thought

of a plan." He now had to think about how he was going to make his second

kill. He had gained respect for his equal and had to outwit the enemy. The

author uses point of view and conflict to make the reader first root for

the sniper, then feel disgusted when the truth about the enemy is revealed,

pushing the theme of the story deeper into the reader and making the reader

unable to escape from the truth. The conflict, through point of view, lets

the reader see a difference in events in the story and then discover the

devastating truth.

The plot of the story is based on the conflict between the two

snipers and point of view is used in conjunction with the plot to arrive at

the overall theme. The author uses the point of view so that we see

differences in the events of the story. In the first incident, the sniper

looks down on the armored car that is ".on the opposite side of the street

fifty yards ahead." At the end of the story, the enemy sniper on the

opposite roof is at the same level as the sniper; the enemy sniper is an

equal; the sniper cannot look down on him. At the end of the story when ".

the sniper turned over the dead body." the story does not say that he felt

anything, but as the reader of the story, it is easy to infer feelings and

to make assumptions about the many emotions the sniper felt at seeing his

brother's face.

"The Sniper" uses the point of view of third person limited to convey

the theme of the story, in conjunction with characterization, conflict, and

plot. The theme of the story is that everyone is a brother or has a brother

and war kills brothers. This story is truly an anti-war story that

expresses the true calamity of war in a way so that the reader can find out

the author's opinion just by reading the story and reflecting on its

meaning. War is always terrible because someone's "brother" will be

separated from him forever.


Huntgoddess profile image

Huntgoddess 5 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

Keith, I like your review. I've really never read anything by this author --- although I've always been aware of him. Your review has made me decide to read this book. It sounds really great.

[I did meet a retired school teacher, who knew Liam O'Flaherty from sharing some plane rides to and from Ireland. One of my sons is named Liam. We were out for a walk one day, when he was a baby. This school teacher stopped to talk, and asked the baby's name. That was when she told me about her experience on the plane with Liam O'Flaherty. She said he was always drunk during the plane trips. When we left, she said, "Goodbye, little Liam. Maybe you'll grow up to be a famous writer like Liam O'Flaherty. I hope you'll stay sober more than he did, though." Liam just turned 32 earlier this month, April 2011 --- But, I digress.]

But, I also think it could be slightly more pleasant reading if you decreased the direct references to point of view, plot, conflict and characterization.

Perhaps this was a paper written for a class, and the instructor said you had to explain the book in reference to those elements. That's fine.

But, regular, non-academic readers are looking for an easy, interesting review. So, you can adapt your hub a little.

Another thing: You gave away the ending.

Some readers dislike knowing the ending, but others don't mind. I think the best way to accommodate all your readers is to just withhold the information until the last couple of paragraphs.

AND --- very important --- put a disclaimer before the paragraphs that give away the ending.

keithbradley profile image

keithbradley 5 years ago from Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo) Author

@Huntgoddess I'm glad you liked my paper and I'm sorry you didn't realize it was an academic piece. Yes it has far too much summarization and uses the ending of the story in the argument.

I have added a disclaimer at the top because everyone should read "The Sniper" before reading this paper.


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