The Sniper Moral Injury

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Doctor Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD, once said, “It has been used in two related, but distinct senses; differing mainly in the “who” of the moral agony. Moral Injury is present when there has been (a) A betrayal of “what’s right….”’ In war stories “Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?” and “The Sniper”, moral injury is seen when the main characters face trauma. Moral injury affected Private Paul Berlin when he reacts to a situation in a peculiar laughter, affected the sniper when he feels remorse for doing his own job and part in the war, and affected both protagonists by making the experience events that make them feel extreme distress.

First, Private Paul Berlin’s moral injury is caused by watching a fellow soldier die on his first day at war. This event is brought up multiple times. Berlin continuously speaks of acting like he is not actually at war, “He was pretending he was not in the war, pretending he had not watched Billy Boy Watkins die of a heart attack that afternoon.” (Where Have You Gone, Charming Billy?”, pg.
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This is of great significance to the main protagonist, known as the sniper, because his enemy can also be seen as a reflection of himself. This event causes him to feel remorse and regret about his actions. For example, Liam O’Flaherty writes “The sniper looked at his falling enemy falling and shuddered. The Lust of battle died in him. He became bitten by remorse.” (“The Sniper”, pg. 3). This is an excerpt from the story that occurs almost immediately after he shoots and kills his enemy. It shows how horrible he feels for his actions and just how quickly his view of war changed. This event also caused him to despise the war, “His teeth chattered, He began to gibber to himself, cursing the war, cursing himself, cursing everybody.”(“The Sniper”, pg.3). This continues to show the extent of his emotions and the disgust he feels with
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