American Sniper | Study Guide

Chris Kyle

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American Sniper | Summary

See Plot Diagram


Rodeo to Military to Marriage

Chris Kyle grew up in north central Texas, working on a ranch and competing in rodeo competitions. He gave up the rodeo when an injury required pins to be placed in his wrist. Kyle then pursued a military career, visiting a recruiting office and applying for the navy. Rejected initially because of his rodeo injury, he returned to work on a ranch. Improbably, however, the U.S. Navy called as he made plans to work on a Colorado ranch and recruited him as a SEAL.

Kyle knew he wanted to become a Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land Forces) and endured rigorous training and hazing in pursuit of his goal. During this time, Kyle met and fell in love with Taya, whom he would eventually marry. Kyle and Taya would face difficulties because of disagreements about Kyle's prioritizing country above family.

Tours of Duty

Kyle served four tours in the Middle East as a sniper. He primarily covered military operations carried out by marines, army soldiers, and other SEALs. Kyle became a sniper in a class of his own, calling himself "lucky" because of the number of insurgents he spotted and killed. Kyle earned several commendations and awards for his efforts and bravery. The U.S. military credited him with being the most prolific sniper in history.

Between his deployments, Taya and Kyle had married and started a family, having first a son and then a daughter. After each birth, Kyle was deployed almost immediately, leaving Taya to shoulder the responsibility of parenting alone. The stress of deployment and disagreements about whether Kyle should reenlist caused them to argue and grow apart.

However, Kyle loved the rush of battle and was committed to the cause of killing insurgents. He saw his role as protecting his brothers-in-arms. He felt that as long as the war was being waged, he should be on the battlefield. Yet, he also acknowledged the difficulties of war and deployment. These included separation from his family, the physical toll of deployment, and the loss of several of his military brothers. A friend, Marc Lee, was killed trying to protect fellow SEALs in their platoon. Not only the deaths but also the injuries affected Kyle. His friend Ryan Job became blind after being shot. Kyle felt these losses profoundly.


After four deployments, Kyle left the military to be with his family. However, the war had taken its toll on Kyle. He experienced physical symptoms like high blood pressure and panic attacks—indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nevertheless, Kyle had no regrets about any of his decisions.

American Sniper Plot Diagram

123456789101112131415ClimaxResolutionIntroductionRising ActionFalling Action


1 Kyle joins the U.S. Navy and trains as a SEAL.

Rising Action

2 Kyle meets and falls in love with Taya.

3 Terrorists attack American landmarks on September 11, 2001.

4 Kyle marries Taya and then deploys to Iraq as a Navy SEAL.

5 Kyle returns home and trains as a sniper.

6 Taya and Kyle welcome a son.

7 Kyle deploys to Iraq as a sniper.

8 Kyle returns home to conflict in his marriage.

9 Despite conflict at home, Kyle enjoys deployment in Ramadi.

10 Because his daughter is ill, Kyle returns home.


11 To save his marriage, Kyle must put his family first.

Falling Action

12 Based in Sadr City, Kyle deploys to Iraq a fourth time.

13 Kyle experiences several close calls in battle.

14 In physical and mental distress, Kyle returns home.


15 To save to his marriage, Kyle retires from the navy.

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