Lone Survivor Themes from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Lone Survivor

Themes and Colors
Politics and the War on Terror Theme Icon
Bigotry and America’s Enemies Theme Icon
Machismo and the Navy SEALs Theme Icon
Ethics and the “Rules of Engagement” Theme Icon
Survival and Trauma Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Lone Survivor, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Lone Survivor takes place during the War on Terror. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared an all-out “war” on terrorism. Bush targeted al Qaeda, the terrorist organization that claimed responsibility for 9/11, led by Osama bin Laden. Bush also approved the invasion of Afghanistan, a country known to be a stronghold for a terrorist group called the Taliban, which was said to be supportive of al Qaeda…

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Most of the events in Lone Survivor take place in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Here, Marcus Luttrell is involved in one of the worst disasters in the history of the Navy SEALs: the failed Operation Redwing, during which Luttrell and his three fellow SEALs are attacked by over a hundred Taliban soldiers. (It’s worth noting, however, that Marcus later claimed there were far fewer Taliban soldiers than he’d suggested in his memoir, and…

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At its core, Lone Survivor is a book about a very particular type of masculine culture: the machismo of the U.S. military. American soldiers are recruited and trained for their bravery and toughness, and Navy SEALs are said to be the toughest, most highly trained American soldiers of all. By writing about his time in the SEALs, Marcus Luttrell paints a picture of U.S. military machismo, offering a strong set of ideas about what it…

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In arguably the most harrowing scene in Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell and his three fellow SEALs have to make a difficult ethical decision. They’ve journeyed to a remote village in Afghanistan, where they’re attempting to capture or kill a dangerous Taliban officer named Ben Sharmak. The element of surprise is paramount, since they’re badly outnumbered. However, the SEALs cross paths with a group of defenseless goatherds. The SEALs have two choices, neither of…

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As the title would suggest, Lone Survivor explores the experience of living on after a horrible tragedy, and the kinds of emotions that survivors have to deal with in order to preserve their mental health. Marcus Luttrell is the lone survivor of a horrific shootout with Taliban soldiers near the Afghan village of Sabray. Living through a firefight with the Taliban would take a psychological toll on almost anyone, but Luttrell bears a particularly large…

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