American Sniper

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American Sniper Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Kyle returns to Taya and his son. He left for Iraq just days after his son was born, and, in many ways, he doesn’t feel like a father. Back home, Kyle spends a lot of time bonding with his boy. At the same time, he and Taya begin to have marital problems. In particular, they argue about their child. Kyle entertains himself by pulling pranks; one afternoon, he moons his neighbor, which irritates Taya. Kyle also begins getting into fights. However, he enjoys the respect that he commands by virtue of being a veteran. Kyle and Taya also struggle with intimacy.
Kyle struggles to adjust to civilian life during his time back in the U.S. His pranks and off-color humor, a fixture of his time with the SEALs in Iraq, don’t translate to his home. Furthermore, Kyle finds it increasingly difficult to talk to Taya—his experiences as a soldier in Iraq are so harrowing that he can only open up to other people who’ve had similar experiences.
Themes
Country vs. Family Theme Icon
Trauma Theme Icon
During his time back in the states, Kyle goes to a New Orleans school run by FBI agents; there, he learns about picking locks, hiding cameras, deploying parachutes, and other skills. In particular, Kyle savors the adrenaline rush of jumping from a plane. Kyle enjoys spending time with Taya and his son, but also wishes that he could be back in Iraq, fighting alongside his good friend, Marcus Luttrell (who heroically fought off hundreds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, and later wrote a book about it, Lone Survivor). Although many military strategists schedule meetings with Kyle to talk about his experiences in the war, they mostly refuse to listen to his advice, which frustrates Kyle greatly.
A few things to note about this passage. First, Kyle continues to savor danger, excitement, and adrenaline. Second, he continues to feel divided loyalties—on one hand, he loves his family; on the other, he wants to fight. Third, Kyle mentions his old friend Marcus Luttrell, who was involved in the Operation Red Wings disaster, during which he became the lone survivor of a Taliban ambush. Fourth, Kyle continues to show signs of disrespect for military leadership—he disagrees with their counterinsurgency recommendations for Iraq.
Themes
The War on Terror Theme Icon
Country vs. Family Theme Icon
Machismo Theme Icon
Trauma Theme Icon
Kyle wants to be back in Iraq more and more each day. Taya is devastated when she learns that he is planning on reenlisting in the military. She tells him that if he goes back to the Middle East, she’ll know that “being a SEAL is more important to him than being a father or a husband.” Nevertheless, Kyle proceeds to reenlist.
Kyle’s choice to reenlist in the military is a clear sign that he’s more loyal to his country than to his family (and that, perhaps, like some people who suffer from trauma, he feels drawn back to the environment that caused his trauma in the first place).
Themes
Country vs. Family Theme Icon
Machismo Theme Icon
Trauma Theme Icon
Kyle reenlists and bonds with his new unit. During basic training, he hazes an overweight recruit named Ryan Job—the standard treatment for any new recruit. Instead of caving in to pressure, Job remains in training, loses weight, and earns his peers’ respect. Kyle and the other soldiers force Job to annoy the biggest, strongest soldiers in basic training, with the result that Job gets beaten up a lot. Another memorable soldier Kyle meets in training is Marc Lee. Lee is charismatic and funny, but he’s also devoutly Christian. Lee leads prayer groups and “was always there” to talk about the Bible.
Previously Kyle was hazed by older, more experienced SEALs, and in the process, he became “one of the guys.” Now that Kyle is an older SEAL, he hazes the younger recruits, including Job. The SEALs don’t tease and haze Job simply to discourage him; rather, they’re trying to encourage Job to work harder. In the culture of machismo, pain and bullying often build friendship (however problematic that friendship might be) instead of ruining it.
Themes
Machismo Theme Icon
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Before shipping out of training, Kyle gets two tattoos: a Trident, symbolizing his SEAL affiliations, and a cross, symbolizing his faith. He also learns that Taya is pregnant with their second child. She begs him not to leave her for the Middle East, but Kyle insists that he has a duty to “kill bad guys.” He admits that he’s excited to be back in Iraq.
Kyle continues to love Taya, but feels that his primary duty is to his country and to his fellow SEALs, not to his wife and children. At the same time, Kyle isn’t only motivated by an abstract, lofty sense of duty—he clearly gets a lot of pleasure from killing insurgents, and he’s eager to be back in Iraq.
Themes
The War on Terror Theme Icon
Country vs. Family Theme Icon
Machismo Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Trauma Theme Icon
Two days before Kyle deploys, Taya learns that she’ll have to have an emergency C-section—her umbilical cord is wrapped around her baby’s neck. Kyle witnesses the long, painful birth of his daughter, and fears for his wife. In the end, however, the operation is a complete success. Kyle holds his newborn daughter, feeling “real warmth and love.” But two days later, he leaves the country for Iraq.
Kyle’s love for his wife is plain in this passage, in which Kyle fears for Taya’s safety during her lengthy C-section. But as much as he loves Taya and their new baby, Kyle refuses to give up on his promises to the SEALs.
Themes
Country vs. Family Theme Icon
Trauma Theme Icon