The Sniper

Read “The Sniper,” by Liam O’Flaherty.

Respond to the Story

  • Reread the first paragraph. What details in the author’s description of the setting establish the tone or atmosphere of the story?
  • What message about this civil war is Liam O’Flaherty trying to convey? How does his message compare to the theme in “War,” by Timothy Findley?
  • List words and phrases the author uses to describe the sniper and what he is doing. Write your own descriptions of him, using some or all of these words.
  • The sniper is the only character the author describes in great detail. Why do you think the author chose to do that?
  • Were you surprised by the ending? Why or why not? Did you find it a powerful ending?
  • Do you think such a story could occur in Canada? Give reasons for your opinion.

Write a Factual Report
Imagine you are the main character in “The Sniper.” You’ve just returned to your company and have been asked to write a report about what happened. List the events in the story in the order they occurred. Use a complete sentence for each event. Because this is an official report, leave out how you feel or what you thought–just include the facts as you saw them.

Essay Topics

  • After researching the life of Liam O’Flaherty, write an informative essay explaining the extent to which he based “The Sniper” on his own experiences.
  • Does urban warfare, like that in “The Sniper,” affect the outlook and mental stability of combatants differently than battlefield fighting?
  • Is modern Ireland still influenced by the outcome of the violence in the early 1920s?
  • In an informative essay, write a short psychological profile the IRA sniper.
  • Can the tactics of urban guerrillas–sniping, sabotage, terrorist bombings–be morally justified?
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Dystopia

Do research to create a working definition of the term dystopia. Then view a film that deals with either a utopian vision, such as Animal Farm(2000), or a dystopian vision such as 1984(1984) or Fahreheit 451(2000). Write a review of the film for a mass-circulation online news audience. Include in your review the following features: a synopsis of the plot; an explanation of how the film reflects a universal theme or archetypal pattern; and an evaluation of the effectiveness and quality of its cinematic(and other related media) techniques and their impact on viewers. Exchange draft reviews with a partner and ask for suggestions to improve your style and content.

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High-Tech Invention

Choose one high-tech invention that you have used, and write an inductive essay that praises or condemns it.

First freewrite on your subject for at least five minutes – automatically, never letting your pencil or keyboard stop – then look over what you have produced in order to learn your point of view.

Now, take more notes, gathering examples. Arrange these in order from least to most important, and from this rough outline write a draft.

In the second draft adjust your tone: Is your whole argument serious or objective? Is it argumentative? Or is it more humorous, subjective, and therefore persuasive? Whichever it is, be consistent.

Now read your argument aloud to family members or classmates, revise any part that fails to work on your audience, then write the final version.

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Distance

Whether your brain thinks in feet, meters, leagues, or lightyears, today let’s think about distance.

Ready to roll? All you need to do is…

  • Write a new post on your iblog in response to the prompt.

Need more ideas? Not sure what to write around Distance? We’re here to help:

  • During this time of physical (and/or social) distancing, what’s the thing you miss the most about being in close proximity to others?
  • What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled from your hometown, region, or country? Share one thing that you learned in that faraway (for you) place.
  • Distance doesn’t have to be spatial — it can be temporal as well. Write about a period in your life that now feels as if it took place in a different galaxy.
  • Share a photo that stretches far into the horizon, or go to your window and snap a photo that includes the farthest object or structure you can see.
  • Write a story, poem, or imagined dialogue featuring you and a person you were once very close to, but who is now a distant presence in your life.
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Sonnet LV

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lover’s eyes.
– William Shakespeare

“Sonnet LV” by William Shakespeare is a rather complicated tribute to the beauty or character of the speaker’s loved one. According to the speaker, her beauty will live on within the sonnet.

Theme:
Creative works can endure for centuries (and give longer life to those people the works describe).

Techniques:
Sonnet structure, comparison, allusion, alliteration

Issues:
Can a rhyme outlive statues or more permanent structures? Can that rhyme give life to the beauty it describes (“But you shall shine more bright in these contents”)?

Summarize the sonnet in your own words.

According to Shakespeare, what else will endure besides his “powerful rhyme”?

Shakespeare argues that the works of the imagination are more enduring than material things. To what extent do you agree with him?

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