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Liam O’Flaherty’s The Sniper: Unimportance of Family During Wars

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“The Sniper” written by Liam O’Flaherty suggests the unimportance of family. It presents the idea of how war can effect and separate families. Sometimes war and other loyalties make family members unrecognizable. I believe the Sniper would have fired the fatal shot if he knew the other soldier was his brother because first of all war divides families, second of all it exterminates the feeling of remorse, and lastly it weakens family bond by decreasing the values of your family members.

To begin with separation and division, war can split families apart. Sometimes your survival becomes more important to you than the rest of your family. Just like in the short story “Cranes” by Hwang Sunwon, Songsam betrayed his family for his survival. In fact, the influence of war ripped him and his best friend, Tok-Chae apart. The two childhood friends became rivals because of fighting on different sides of the war. They had forgotten the value of family and friendship until the day when they finally faced each other. Maybe the same thing happened with the Sniper. As stated by the author in the text “Then the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother’s face”. This statement doesn’t express any guilt or sorrow. Even Dane said in the Socratic discussion “He would have taken the shot anyway because it’s his duty.” And I agree with that because if he doesn’t follow his duty he might be killed for being a traitor.

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Secondly, war exterminates the felling of remorse. War is all about murders and violence. And if you want to survive you have to kill your enemy. For the Sniper murdering someone didn’t mean anything because he was used to it. It was his duty. He just saw it as his job. Even Dane agreed with this in the discussion by saying “killing someone didn’t matter to him because he has done it like ten times before.” Also, in the text it said “Then when the smoke cleared, he peered across and uttered a cry of joy.” Clearly, this sentence proves that he was relieved that he killed his enemy and now he’s safe.

Furthermore, war can weaken family bond by decreasing the values of your family members. After seeing the terrible lifestyle of the soldiers and the horrors on the battle field he would obviously want to survive and he could do anything for it. In addition, the text said “Weakened by his wound and the long summer day of fasting and watching on the roof, he revolted from the sight of the shattered mass of his dead enemy.” This states that he was just tired of serving in the war and he just wanted everything to end. In fact, he also wondered “He wondered did he know him. Perhaps he had been in his own company before the split in the army.” He knew that there is a possibility of his enemy being his friend or relative but still he took a chance and killed him without even thinking who he might end up killing. He did all this just for his selfishness and survival.

“The Sniper” presents the idea of how war can have an immense impact on one’s life. It briefly explains how war can split families apart and make you selfish. The same situation occurred with the Sniper which I believe would have probably made him fired that shot even if he knew the other soldiers was his brother. The causes of this situation are that war divides families, it weakens family bond which decreases your values for your family, and war exterminates the feeling of remorse.

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