In American Sniper, describe Christopher Kyle's job, family, friends, hobbies, religion, and spirituality through an ecological perspective.

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An ecological perspective involves how individuals adapt and react to their social and cultural environments. Several constructs explain how the individual interacts successfully (or unsuccessfully) with their environments:

1) Adaptation: This explains an individual's capacity to adapt to changes such as occupational stresses, relationship difficulties, and other types of personal tragedies.

In the book, Chris discusses his time working for David Landrum at his Hood County ranch; Chris worked after-school shifts and summers for Landrum. Here, Chris experienced firsthand the challenges inherent in the ranching business; by all indications, Chris's later ability to adapt to difficult surroundings as a SEAL was honed from his early training as a ranch hand. At the ranch, he roomed in a six-by-twelve bunkhouse, and he braved the cold of winter with only a gas stove and electric heater. At the same time, he battled raccoons and armadillos in his quarters. Chris learned patience (a great prerequisite for succeeding as a SEAL) while training horses at Landrum's ranch.

Later, Chris jumped at the opportunity when the Navy offered him a chance to try out for the SEALS. From BUD/S training through Hell Week, Chris learned to do whatever it took to succeed. It was this ability to adapt and to overcome (in the face of challenges) that propelled Chris to a successful career as a sniper. This ability also proved useful when, later in his career, he decided not to reenlist in order to devote more time to his duties as a father and husband.

2) Goodness-of-Fit: This explains the degree a person's temperament is suited to his cultural and social environments.

From his earliest youth, Chris loved to fight on behalf of the underdog. He was fiercely protective of his younger brother and never lost an opportunity to defend those who were weaker and smaller than him. Chris also enjoyed a good fight, and his aggressive temperament largely explained his ease in combat environments during his tours of duty. According to Taya, Chris's sense of duty and caring also made him a phenomenal SEAL. When the stakes were high, Chris always upheld the trust of soldiers who depended upon him.

3) Niche: This explains how an individual's social position determines success. If the individual enjoys equal access to economic and educational advantages, his environment is a good niche (or place) for him.

In the book, we learn that Chris attended Tarleton State University after he graduated from high school. Tarleton State became part of the Texas A&M University system in 1917. By all indications, Chris had equal access to the educational and economic opportunities his peers enjoyed. When the Navy announced that it would accept him for BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/ SEAL training), Chris was further able to access the necessary training that would aid his success as a future SEAL.

4) Habitat: An individual is said to live in an empowering habitat if the sociopolitical, economic, and cultural forces that surround him are largely supportive of his mental and physical health.

In the book, Chris Kyle tells us that he was raised in the Christian faith in Odessa, a small town in north-central Texas. There, he was taught the elements of patriotism, independence, and loyalty. God, country, and family were the three most important things to him; he also loved hunting and enjoyed helping his family raise cattle during his childhood years.

Chris had supportive parents and had an equally close relationship with his younger brother. Chris credits his parents for instilling in him a good work ethic and his father specifically for bequeathing him his sense of "justice and fair play." Chris's father was also largely instrumental in encouraging him to pursue his ambitions; both parents convinced Chris to finish college before serving in the military.

As a SEAL, Chris enjoyed the support of good neighbors and friends. Often, after returning from a mission, Chris's supportive network would allow him time to decompress before they threw him barbecue parties. During his absence, neighbors, family members, and close friends helped Taya and the children to survive and thrive. It can be said that Chris lived in an empowering habitat, where the sociopolitical, economic, and cultural forces were largely supportive of his mental and physical health.