American Sniper

Themes and Colors
The War on Terror Theme Icon
Country vs. Family Theme Icon
Machismo Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Trauma Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in American Sniper, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

It’s impossible to understand Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s memoir American Sniper fully without understanding the history of the so-called War on Terror—the era following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, when the United States stepped up its efforts to fight terrorism around the world, especially in the Middle East. Under the leadership of President George W. Bush, the military deployed troops to Afghanistan, followed by Iraq. At first, the military’s stated goal in…

(read full theme analysis)

Chris Kyle ships out to the Middle East in 2003, only a few months after marrying his wife, Taya Kyle. Throughout American Sniper, he writes about his conflicting loyalties: he loves Taya and his children, but he also wants to serve his country in Iraq. In a different sense, American Sniper shows Kyle negotiating the tension between country and family—the war front and the home front.

For most of the book, Kyle ranks…

(read full theme analysis)

One of the key themes of American Sniper is the strong culture of machismo—the masculine-oriented aggressiveness, competitiveness, and glamorization of danger—found in the U.S. military. As Chris Kyle explains, the Navy SEALs have a firm set of beliefs about how men should behave; during the course of his time in the SEALs, he learns these beliefs and later passes them on to new soldiers. Machismo is more than just a cornerstone of military culture: it’s…

(read full theme analysis)
Get the entire American Sniper LitChart as a printable PDF.
American sniper.pdf.medium

One of the most troubling aspects of American Sniper is Chris Kyle’s view of Middle Easterners—a view that a great many people have interpreted as outright racism. Again and again, Kyle refers to the people he encounters in Iraq as “savages.” At times, it seems that he’s strictly referring to insurgents and terrorists; however, there are many points in the book in which he suggests all Iraqis are savage, brutal, and inhuman. Shortly after…

(read full theme analysis)

It is very difficult to discuss trauma in American Sniper, because the author, Chris Kyle, barely mentions it; in fact, he never once uses the word. While many soldiers who served in Iraq suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their experiences (including guilt for killing other human beings), Kyle claims that he always relished killing Iraqi insurgents, and knows that one day, God will forgive him for his kills…

(read full theme analysis)