The Sniper by Liam O'Flaherty

January 24, 2013
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Bored to Tears
Have you ever been forced to read a boring book by the teacher? A book so boring you would rather die than read? Well, this story “The Sniper,” by Liam O'Flaherty is just that. I strongly discourage that anyone who loves to read realistic war stories, under any condition read this story. This is a story about a dull-headed sniper who is in the middle of a war and surrounded by enemies. Never the less, the sniper acts careless, gets hurt and compromises his position. If you like realistic war stories you should never read the story ”The Sniper,” because it is extremely boring because of its unrealistic and brainless characters, very dull and un-suspenseful plot, and a poorly developed setting.

First, you should never read this story because it has very unrealistic and brainless characters. The sniper acts insane throughout the whole story. One of the most insane of these actions was the fact that he had shot his enemy while he was shot in the arm, “The distance was about fifty yards a hard shot in the dim light,” (O’Flaherty, 9). Yet the sniper had made it, even though the snipers arm had been shot and his arm was “Paining him like a thousand devils (9).” Does that seem realistic to you? “He took a steady aim,” (9). How would he possibly have a steady aim when his “Arm bent back easily? (7).” It is not only filled with unrealistic actions but poorly developed characters. For example, it is wartime and the sniper, “placing a cigarette between his lips, he struck a match, inhaled the smoke hurriedly, and put out the light,” (6) that’s crazy! Its night, smoking would be like asking to be shot. If it were the morning it might be okay, but really in the dark where the light would stand out and be hard not to be seen! Any fool would be able to spot you in an instant! Not only is the main character slow, but as is the other sniper, the enemy sniper. Another example is, when the sniper fakes his death, the other sniper, “seeing the cap and rifle fall, thought he had killed his man,” (8-9) the enemy sniper then, “standing before a row of chimney pots, looking across, with his head clearly silhouetted against the western sky,” the sniper taking advantage of this, then killed the man. If the enemy sniper had thought he had succeeded in killing his enemy, then why didn't he shoot him once more, just to make sure that he was actually dead? Why had he given away his position, were there no other enemies? As you see, you should never read this book, because as shown above it is very unrealistic and full of half-witted characters.
The second reason why you shouldn't ever read this book is because this story also has an unbelievably dull and un-suspenseful plot. The entire story the sniper is just sitting on a roof doing stupid things that end up getting him shot. Then out of nowhere an old lady informs the enemies of the sniper, Where was she? How did she see him? And then it says that he “ate his sandwich hungrily,” (6) but where had he gotten his sandwich? The only part that had suspense was the last bit of the story where the sniper, “turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face,” (10) and even then it was quickly resolved. The only problem that the sniper had, other than the war, was the fact that another sniper was shooting at him from the other side of the street. The ending was very predictable with such a minor twist that it was almost irrelevant to the reader. This passage was over all a dull disappointment of un-suspenseful events that lead to the demise of the main characters own brother, which is why you should never read the story ”The Sniper.”
Lastly, yet another reason why you shouldn’t read this book is, The Sniper has a poorly developed setting. One section that shows this is, “Then he pushed the rifle over the parapet.”(8) It does not describe the parapet completely, only in small chunks, which make the story confusing like it just says “On a rooftop near O’Connell Bridge, lay a republican sniper watching”(5). It does not give us enough detail to imagine the story. How would we know which bridge that is or which rooftop it is? It does not say what kind or rooftop, or if it's large or small, it just says rooftop. Was the rooftop completely flat? If so how had they not seen the sniper? It also says that, “there was a flash and a bullet whizzed over his head. He dropped immediately. He had seen the flash. It came from the opposite side of the street,” (6) but it never mentioned that he was near a street, or had buildings near him at all. Were there many houses or just one other? Were the houses in ruin, or whole? None of these details are given. “The sniper lay a long time nursing his wounded arm and planning to escape (8).” How would he escape from the roof? Where would he go if he could? Was there a ladder? Where did he even get the medical supplies from, and how did he know how to use them? It leaves you wondering. This story has a setting that is hard to visualize, which is why you shouldn't read this book.
In conclusion, anyone who enjoys reading realistic war stories should not read this story, because it is filled with unrealistic and poorly developed and brainless characters that make idiotic actions and put their life on the line and as a result of this injure themselves, a dull and un-suspenseful plot that only sparks a dim, seconds worth of faint light that sparks interest out of the entire story, and a poorly developed setting that completely sucks the joy out of reading this book, as it is barely described, hard to actually imagine, and totally boring and adds no suspense or thrill to the story. This is the worst book I have ever read, and if not for the teacher forcing me to read it, I would not have. The only good thing that came out of my reading this story was my essay, which can warn others not to read “The sniper.”I would not, under any circumstance recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a good, realistic war story.

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Andria said...
Sept. 28, 2013 at 9:17 am
First of all, i want to say that i respect your opinionand this is a freaking good essay. but i wanna clear something out which actually bothers me when you complain about it. 'paining him like a thousand devils' its just figurative language. Yup that as annoying me, but other things you complained about are actually agreeable. so totally am saying your AWESOME! 
juliakimi replied...
Mar. 30, 2015 at 4:12 am
By that passage I meant that he was in a lot of pain so how could he steady a firearm and shoot such a precise shot? Reading this over now, I have realized that my grammar and writing skills have, in my opinion, increased dramatically in two years. Thanks for the comment though :)
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