Summary of "The Sniper"
The Sniper by Liam O'Flaherty
In "the Sniper", by Liam O'Flaherty, a young sniper was caught in the
turmoil of an Irish civil war. The sniper lay on the roof engulfed in the
dark night of Dublin as the sounds of civil war echoed around him. He
decided to take the risk of lighting a cigarette; as soon as the match
flickered into light, a bullet hit the parapet that he was hiding behind.
He carefully gazed around the parapet and another bullet came whizzing at
him; this time he saw the flash, but his enemy was undercover on the
opposite roof. When an armored car rolled along the street below, an
informant ran across the street to point out the sniper's position to the
men in the vehicle. In one smooth movement, the sniper ended the lives of
the man in the turret and of the informant. Moments later, a shot fired
from the opposite roof hits the sniper in his right forearm. Because the
bullet had penetrated deep into the bone of his right arm, the sniper's
rifle was useless. He moved undercover to tend to his wound and used his
field dressing to make a quick bandage, clenching his teeth to fight the
pain. The sniper knew that he could not allow himself to be found on the
roof come morning because he would then be an easy target, so he devised a
plan to kill his enemy. He held his hat on the tip of his rifle above the
parapet. After the enemy fired, the sniper first allowed his hat to fall to
the street, then used his good arm to hold the rifle over the edge of the
parapet and drop it to the ground.
"His ruse had succeeded." The enemy, thinking he had killed his mark, left
the safety of his hiding place, giving the sniper a clear shot with his
revolver. He steadied his left arm and took the shot. As he watched his
enemy fall from the roof, the Republican sniper became filled with a
feeling of remorse. He threw his smoking revolver to the ground and when it
discharged a bullet past his head, he was frightened back to his senses.
The sniper decided to leave the roof and report to his commander. After
reaching the street, his curiosity overcame him and he wanted to know the
identity of the enemy who had put up such a challenging fight. He ran to
the body, through a hail of lead fired by a nearby machine gun, which
caused him to dive to the ground. When he turned over the corpse, he found
his brother dead in the street.