In "The Sniper," the term "fanatical" is used to describe the mindset of the sniper, who is completely absorbed in his task of killing his enemy. The story is set during the Irish Civil War, and the sniper, a Republican soldier, is pitted against an enemy sniper on the opposite side. As the night wears on and the tension builds, the Republican sniper becomes increasingly focused on his mission, despite the danger and difficulty of the task at hand. When the enemy sniper reveals his location by lighting a cigarette, the Republican sniper takes careful aim and shoots, hitting his target. It is at this moment that the word "fanatical" is used to describe the sniper's intense focus: "Then, the sniper turned over the dead body and looked into his brother's face." The use of the word "fanatical" here emphasizes the extent to which the sniper was driven by his desire to win the war and defeat the enemy.
In this context, "fanatical" conveys a sense of extreme dedication and devotion to a cause or belief. The sniper's actions are not driven by personal animosity or a desire for revenge, but rather by a strong commitment to his cause. The use of this word also underscores the theme of the story, which is the dehumanizing effects of war and the toll it takes on those who participate in it. Overall, the use of the word "fanatical" in "The Sniper" serves to emphasize the intensity of the conflict and the extraordinary circumstances that the soldiers find themselves in.
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