Through an exploration of plots, themes, and conflicts, it may be argued that both Roald Dahl’s “Beware of the Dog” and Liam O’Flaherty’s “The Sniper” provide varying perspectives on the hardships of war. Both short stories feature main characters pitted against an enemy in a struggle for survival. Both themes have to do with a struggle against dangerous conditions. Both of the main conflicts have to do with a “man vs. enemy” setup. The similarities between these two short stories emphasize negative aspects of organized armed conflict, and the differences provide alternate insights.
The plot constructions of the short stories are based on similar concepts and are designed to demonstrate problems faced in war. Both main characters are members of an armed force, pitted against a known enemy, and nothing is quite as it may seem at first. Both men are injured by the enemy, and they must save themselves. It is only minor differences that set the plots apart. For example, in “Beware of the Dog,” Peter, a fighter pilot, loses a leg, ends up being captured, and must concede himself to fate.
In “The Sniper,” the main character is sniper who injures him arm, triumphs over the other sniper, and eventually must live with the fact that he has killed his own brother. The two plotlines focus not only on the war struggle but also on the differing end results of those struggles through irony. The different themes of the two short stories both find a focus in trouble. A major theme of “Beware of the Dog” is determination through adversity. A major theme of “The Sniper” is the tragedy of war. Both themes have to do with a struggle against dangerous conditions.
Although it may be generalized that both short stories end in tragedy, while Peter deals with his own capture, the sniper deals with the murder of his brother. The conflicts of the stories are where their main differences lie, although the end meeting point is still the negative effects of war. Although it is true that both main conflicts are “man vs. enemy,” the key differences between them set the messages apart. In “Beware of the Dog,” the main conflict is between Peter and the Germans. In “The Sniper,” however, the main conflict is between the sniper and his brother.
Both conflicts end in irony, as Peter’s survival only gets him captured and the sniper’s kill only turns out to be his brother. Overall, the short stories of Roald Dahl and Liam O’Flaherty can be paralleled to show similar emphasis on different types of hardships pertaining to war. The plots are suspenseful and original, and yet their elegance may lie in their artful simplicity. The themes both reflect the fact that all war requires certain sacrifices. The conflicts between the characters provide the backbone of their fateful struggles. As such, both “Beware of the Dog” and “The Sniper” are tributes to what is surrendered in war.