Stephen King and Gillian Flynn share one commonality. Their readers’ emotions were controlled by the rises and drops of suspense. Liam O’Flaherty’s Sniper definitely kept his readers’ attention up until the final page. The story is about a sniper who sits on a roof, in the dark of night, waiting to kill his enemy. The story told a story about war experiences and the dangers that young soldiers face. Details and the structure pulled and pushed the reader. Liam O’Flaherty creates suspense in The Sniper by using setting, imagery and pace.
Liam O’Flaherty’s first tool to create suspense is setting. The narration for The Sniper lets us know that a young soldier is in danger, because the dark and somber “long June twilight faded to night” (163). The author chose a setting that was eerie to make the reader feel uneasy. The narrator makes clear that the war zone was a sniper’s world: “Here-and-there through the cities machine guns and rifles broken the silence …” 163. The sniper faced immediate dangers and was in an unsafe scene. Over and over, the description of darkness falling on the scene gets repeated: “Dublin sat in the shadows” (163). Tenebrosity and darkness are both warnings of danger.
The author also uses imagery as a way to create suspense. The narrator mentions that the soldier’s special features are his thin face and ascetic eyes, which remind him of someone who has seen death before. This statement allows young readers to relate better to the story. They can imagine what it would be like to be in that situation. Our sniper is not immune to injuries, as war is a fact of life. O’ Flaherty brings the idea of pain and injury right to the reader’s attention: “There was not pain, only a dulled sensation, like the arms were severed.” Readers would experience empathy when they read this remark. This allows them to feel the sadness and pain of the protagonist. This heightens the suspense. The story suddenly changed after an exciting description of the enemy’s execution. “The lust for battle died in [the sniper]”. He was bitten with remorse.”(166). The sudden changes suggest an unknown connection between the character and his fallen opponent; therefore, grab the readers attention.
The Sniper’s suspense is created by the pace. The Sniper was no different. The descriptive passages in the story made it seem like the story started slowly. The story moved slowly, but suddenly, the sniper was shot. The reader was not warned of the hit, which happened so fast. The story resumed its normal pace after the hit. The change in pace encourages the reader to be curious and read on. The pace continued to slow down until the very end. It was a very brief ending compared to what had been written. The story ended abruptly with the sniper discovering his enemy’s identity. This conclusion intrigues readers even further. This leaves the reader to imagine every single detail. How will the sniper act, what will happen, etc. The readers could imagine anything.
The Sniper’s story is very inspirational. It is not only a good example of suspense, but it also describes the Irish Civil War very well. All three elements of suspense-setting, imagery, and pace-were used to great effect. Setting and imagery are used to create empathy and connection, while pacing is done in order to grab the reader’s attention.