The Sniper by Liam O´Flaherty
Class notes
Discuss these questions in groups
Does urban warfare, like that in "The Sniper," affect the outlook and
mental stability of combatants differently than battlefield fighting?
Can the tactics of urban guerrillas—sniping, sabotage, terrorist
bombings—be morally justified?
The narrator is a young man. How can age influence a person's
decision-making ability? Do you think he fully understands the
ramifications of his political convictions?
The sniper hardly considers whether or not to shoot the old woman.
Should he feel remorse for shooting her? Why/Why not?
What conflict does the old woman cause for the sniper? Is it an
internal or external conflict? Give examples to support your
The sniper initially is characterised as animalistic. His actions
are portrayed as instinctual. Is there a place in the story that his
character changes?
Why do you think the author chose not to name his characters?
What affect does this have on the story? Do you think names
could have brought a new dimension to the story – if so why?
What was the irony in the story?
Do you think the narrator knew his brother was fighting for the
opposing side? How do you think their political differences
developed? If they had known the eventual outcome, do you
think their decisions would have been different?
Are political ideologies worth sacrificing family ties? Explain.
How do you think the sniper will deal with the consequences of his
How do you think the rest of the family will respond? Is
reconciliation possible? Why/Why not?
Why do these texts work so well together?
What similarities can be drawn from both texts?
How do our childhood memories often contrast with our present
A famous American novelist, Thomas Wolfe, once said we "Can't
go home again." After reading this poem, do you think this quote
has some truth in it? Why/why not?
Think about a place from your childhood that you remember
with fondness. How would you describe it so that it actually
comes alive to the reader? Is it the same now as it was then or
has it changed?

The Sniper by Liam O´Flaherty - Introduction to the Short Story and