Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.
The Life of a Sniper
American Sniper provides an in-depth look at the life of one of America's most famous military snipers, Chris Kyle. Through reading the book and writing about it, students can experience the life of a United States Navy SEAL tasked with serving in wartime Iraq. Not only can students explore the journey that led to Chris Kyle's military accomplishments, but they can also make connections between the social and political climates of both the Middle East and United States and how they contributed to what Chris Kyle and other service members experienced on the front lines.
Let's explore some essay topics to get students thinking about American Sniper and the experiences of Chris Kyle.
- Chris Kyle grew up in Texas. Describe his childhood and upbringing. How did experiences during his formative years affect his time in the military?
- Before Chris Kyle entered the military, he had another career. Discuss this career and why he chose to leave it to enlist in the United State military.
- Describe Chris Kyle's family. How did they handle his tours overseas and what were the effects on his wife and children?
- What did Chris Kyle do after his time in the military? How did his experiences in the military prepare him for this occupation?
- Chris Kyle was tragically murdered after his book was published. Describe the circumstances surrounding his death. How did his death raise awareness of treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans?
- As a Navy SEAL, Chris Kyle went through intensive training. Describe the training he completed to become a Navy SEAL. Provide examples from the book of the types of exercises he had to do to become a sniper.
- In his book, Chris Kyle describes how he performs his duty as a sniper by saying: ''I don't have to psych myself up, or do something special mentally--I look through the scope, get my target in the cross hairs, and kill my enemy, before he kills one of my people.'' What did Kyle mean by this? How does quote this reflect the philosophy of other soldiers in combat?
- During the Battle of Ramadi, the insurgents in Iraq singled out Chris Kyle. Describe the nickname they gave him and what they did to encourage his death. How do their actions illustrate the social and political climate of Iraq during this time?
- Describe the awards that Chris Kyle received as a result of his service and why he received them. What military record did he break during his time in combat? What personal injuries did he sustain?
- How did other people view Chris Kyle? Use examples from the book to support how soldiers or other people he encountered during his tours of duty felt about him as a soldier.
- One of Chris Kyle's first confirmed kills was that of a woman who was reported to have been holding a child. Discuss the differing accounts of this encounter as described by Kyle and the media. How do the accounts reflect a tension between social and political rhetoric and wartime realities?
- Jesse Ventura sued Chris Kyle over a chapter in his book called ''Punching Out Scruff Face.'' Describe the circumstances surrounding this case. What was the outcome?
- A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Chris Kyle's book went to charity. Describe the controversy surrounding media claims that the Kyle family was dishonest about the amount of money being donated.
- After the publication of American Sniper, the media questioned Chris Kyle's service record. Discuss what was found when the Navy released records regarding Kyle's service.
- Some people and media outlets complained that American Sniper was a politicized, pro-war propaganda piece. Discuss whether or not you believe this claim to be true. Provide examples from the book to support your position.
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