A short story I have read and enjoyed recently is 'The Sniper' by Liam O'Flaherty. This is a war story, which focuses on civil war, violence and self-sacrifice as the theme, but the main theme is the waste of civil war.
The story is set during long June twilight in the Irish city of Dublin, in the period of a civil war in the 1930's. .
The short story starts by introducing the main character, a republican sniper, fighting against the 'free-staters.' The republican sniper lit his cigarette, but he was spotted, an enemy sniper shot from across the street, but missed. Then an enemy vehicle and a woman arrived, she spoke to the driver. A man then appeared from the vehicle, the sniper shot him and the woman. Suddenly, an enemy sniper shot the republican, he dropped his rifle, he tried to pick it up but he couldn't.. He ripped open his sleeve and poured some iodine into the wound, he wrapped a dressing around it. Then, the republican had an idea, placing his cap on the end of his rifle he leaned it over the parapet, the enemy fired. The cap fell into the street below, then, the republican dropped his rifle, pretending to be dead. The enemy sniper thinking he had killed his enemy stood up, the republican drew his revolver and shot the enemy, he killed him. Out of curiosity, the sniper walked over to see whom he had killed. It was his brother.
The ending to me was quite surprising because on reflection, there were many clues given hinting at the ending. Like the fact that there was a civil war going on, that was a big clue because you could be shooting a friend, neighbour of family member, and at the end, the republican went over to see his dead enemy, if this wasn't relevant to the ending, it wouldn't have been mentioned. Also, both snipers were said to be 'good shots,' this also hinted at the ending.
The main character of the story was the republican sniper. I would describe him by saying that he has a strong personality, determined, willing to sacrifice his life for what he believes, and is a risk taker, but, he does have a worse side to him, he is heartless and cold-blooded. I say this from reading the descriptions of him at the beginning of the text, "his eyes had the cold gleam of the fanatic," "eyes of a man used to looking at death" "his eyes were deep and thoughtful." Those are just a few...