by Liam O'Flaherty (1897-1984)
Order of Events
• Directions: Place the following events in the order in which
they occurred in the story. List responses from 1st – 6th
(Example: 1= happens first; 2= happens second, etc.)
writing the order in the space provided.
1.________An old woman comes out from a side street.
2.________An armored car comes across the bridge.
3.________The sniper lights his cigarette.
4.________The sniper learns the identity of the man he
5.________The dying man on the roof crumpled up and fell
6.________The sniper gets shot in the arm.
hidden shooter: somebody who shoots people from a concealed position
skilled military shooter: a member of the armed forces who is trained to
shoot enemy soldiers from a concealed position
Universal Theme: A theme that can be found in literature from different
times, countries, and cultures. Universal themes cross genres as well as
national boundaries, customs, languages, and historic periods. An example
of a universal theme is "Love conquers all."
Background information on "The Sniper":
"The Sniper" is set in Dublin, Ireland, in the 1920's, during the Irish Civil
War. The Republicans (not to be confused with the political party in the
U.S.), on one side, wanted all of Ireland to become a republic, free from
British rule. The Free Staters, on the other side, were willing to allow
continued British rule over several counties in the northern part of Ireland.
Historical Background for “The Sniper” by
In 1919, the newly formed Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched guerilla
warfare during the Irish War of Independence to liberate Ireland from the
British. Unable to contain the rebels, London agreed in the 1921 Anglo-Irish
Treaty to create an Irish Free State. However, the agreement would
recognize the Free State only as a dominion in the British Commonwealth of
Nations. Moreover, it would permit six counties in Northern Ireland to
withdraw from the Free State, allow the British to maintain ports in the
south, and require the Free State to pay part of the debt Britain incurred in
waging the war. Consequently, not all Irishmen accepted the agreement, the
provisions of which became effective in 1922. The six northern counties
seceded, as expected. Once-united Irish fighters were now split into two
factions – disgruntled IRA members and supporters of the Free State – and
fought a civil war. O’Flaherty, himself a member of the IRA, centers his short
story on a scene of fighting in Dublin in which an IRA sniper shoots at Free
Staters from a rooftop.
• The Republican Sniper—for the Irish Republic-Catholic
• The other sniper—Free-Stater. Irish Free State
which would be Protestant.
• The Old Woman
• The other side of the war.
• Man v. man—
• The old lady—
she had told of
• Man v. society –civil war.
• Two sides are impersonal…
• Man v. nature—it’s night; damp, foggy
• Wounded—pain and unable to use his rifle.
• Man v. Himself—fear and
anger, hunger, relief
• Shoots old woman
• Sniper gets wounded
• Trap—trick other sniper into thinking we are
• Kills the other sniper.
• Discovers—that he has killed
• What happens after the discovery of the
identity of the other sniper?
• Background on the Irish Civil War.
• A June night @ midnight on a rooftop near the
• "The Sniper" is set in Dublin, Ireland, in the
1920's, during the Irish Civil War. The
Republicans on one side, wanted all of Ireland to
become a republic, free from British rule. The
Free Staters, on the other side, were willing to
allow continued British rule over several counties
in the northern part of Ireland.
• He wondered if he knew the other sniper.
Whether they had trained together…
• No names—everyman stands for any one.
• Brother– all men are brothers.
• Explain to students that Suspense is the feeling of anxiety
or dread you feel about what will happen next in a story,
especially when you are concerned for a character.
• Demonstrate how to identify suspense by reading aloud the
first paragraph of "The Sniper" by Liam O’Flaherty.
• Remind students that suspense is created when the reader
wants to know what happens next. An example of this is
the second sentence of the text. (Dublin lay enveloped in
darkness but for the dim light of the moon that shone
through fleecy clouds,…) Since the writer does not reveal
what will happen next, it creates suspense.
• Universal theme—All men are brothers
• “Whatsoever you do to the least of my
brothers—that you do unto me.”
Point of View
• Third person, author limited to our Sniper. We
see, hear, feel, all that he knows.
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